By JOHN DEVLINSpecial to The State
Cardinal Newman did everything possible to end Pinewood Prep’s dominated of SCISA boys soccer Saturday at The Graveyard.
It still wasn’t enough to break the Panthers’ grip on the Class 3A trophy.
Pinewood withstood the Cardinals’ maximum effort and came away with a 2-1 win that came down to a penalty kick shootout. It was the seventh straight championship for the imperious Panthers from Summerville.
“To win seven in a row, you have to be doing something right and have to have a lot of luck, too,” said Cardinals coach Will Eudy.
“If you look at it, this match was as even as it gets. We executed our game plan perfectly, but they’re a very good team, and they know how to win.”
The Cardinals entered the showdown ranked No. 1 in SCISA, and beat Pinewood Prep in a shootout during the regular season. Cardinal Newman scored first on a controversial goal with 27 minutes remaining in regulation. Pinewood keeper Robert Beebe leaped up to grab a high shoot, but appeared to fall back and over the end line after absorbing some contact from a number of converging players from both sides. It was officially ruled an “own goal,” giving CN a 1-0 lead.
“I thought it might have been interference, but the linesman had a better angle than I did,” said Pinewood coach Jason Birchwood.
The Panthers countered eight minutes later with a goal by Max Jaskwhich, who deftly lofted a high shot from the left side that caught to top right corner.
Both teams had excellent scoring chances in the 30 extra minutes of regular play, and each team had one goal in the overtime periods waved off by offside calls.
Ultimately, the Panthers’ 3-2 edge in the shootout session was the difference. Each team had two successful conversions in the first four rotations. Nick O’Rourke and Kyle Maitland beat Beebe, while Brandon Phinny and Justin White scored for the Panthers. In the fifth turn, Beebe, who is headed for the University of South Carolina, made a save on Mike Maracich. That left it up to Pinewood’s Blaise Rashtchian, who beat CN keeper Timmy Cunningham cleanly with low shot to the left side.
“Cardinal Newman provided the greatest challenge that we’ve had in the seven years we’ve reached the finals,” said Birchwood.
Pinewood Prep finished with a 17-9 record. The crestfallen Cardinals closed at 20-7.