2009-05-15 / Sports

Cardinals lose championship to Panthers in overtime

By George Kaupp

Cardinal Newman's Nick O'Rourke dribbles as Pinewood Prep's Thomas Ferro pursues. Cardinal Newman's Nick O'Rourke dribbles as Pinewood Prep's Thomas Ferro pursues. Brandon Ferro scored two goals as the Pinewood Prep Panthers won their sixth consecutive SCISA AAA soccer championship with a 4- 2 overtime victory over the Cardinal Newman Cardinals on Saturday, May 9 at Porter- Gaud School in Charleston.

This game, a rematch of the 2007 championship, pitted the number one and two teams in the state. Pinewood came in having only lost three games and coming off a 2- 1 victory over Hammond in the semifinals. Cardinal Newman entered the game with a 16- game winning streak, having not lost since a 4- 2 decision to Northwestern in March.

Cardinal Newman got the scoring started in the 10th minute when Nick O'Rourke headed in a corner kick by Ryan Zurcher past Panther keeper Robert Beebe. In the 20th minute, Pinewood had a point- blank shot on the Cardinal net, but Timmy Cunningham made a great play to keep the Panthers at bay.

The Cardinals put more pressure on the Panthers, finally breaking through when Gabe Roldan blasted a shot past Beebe off an assist by Michael Beaudoin in the 40th minute. The Panthers immediately counterattacked off the kickoff and drew a foul on Thomas Winstead inside the box, leading to a penalty kick. Malcolm Reed converted the kick in stoppage time to cut the Cardinal lead to 2- 1 at the half.

Photos by Jim Marczesky Cardinal Newman's Thomas Winstead tries to get by Pinewood Prep defender 's Dillioon Thies. Photos by Jim Marczesky Cardinal Newman's Thomas Winstead tries to get by Pinewood Prep defender 's Dillioon Thies. In the second half, Pinewood got the first attempt at net, but Thomas Ferro's shot went off Cunningham's fingers, off the crossbar, and then back into Cunningham's hands for a save. Ten minutes later, Winstead took a shot from 30 yards out that just went over the crossbar and landed on the back of the net.

In the 63rd minute, Winstead placed a perfect crossing pass in front of the goal, but Adam Touma hit it just high and over. Pinewood had a tremendous chance in the 67th minute with Cunningham out of position, but Davis Lemon headed the ball out of danger.

Finally, in the 75th minute, Pinewood scored on a defensive breakdown by the Cardinals, as Brandon Ferro took a pass from Justin White and placed it in the left side of the net to tie the score at 2. Both teams had chances to win the game in regulation, but neither converted.

Pinewood Prep's Joe Sweet and Cardinal Newman's Gabe Roldan leap for the loose ball. Pinewood Prep's Joe Sweet and Cardinal Newman's Gabe Roldan leap for the loose ball. The first 10- minute overtime period was played rather cautiously, as both sides had two real chances but no goals.

The second overtime period saw the turning point in the game, as Pinewood put the ball in the box in the 93rd minute. The ball glanced off Cunningham's hands to Touma, who stopped the ball with his foot before Cunningham picked it up. The officials ruled this to be an illegal passback to the keeper, giving the Panthers an indirect kick from the spot of the foul—six yards away from the goal. Joe Sweet converted the free kick and Pinewood had a 3- 2 lead.

After the kickoff, Cardinal Newman pushed everyone forward, trying for the tying goal, but Ferro intercepted a pass and beat Cunningham on a breakaway to end the scoring.

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