PEABODY — The St. Mary’s Spartans showed some tremendous heart in their come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Crusaders Wednesday at Bishop Fenwick High School.
In the first half of the game, the Crusaders came out firing with a plethora of scoring chances off of corners and excellent runs. Fenwick’s energy and attacking put the Spartans on the ropes, as it seemed like its play shocked the Spartans.
As the Crusaders mounted an impressive attack, their best scoring opportunity of the first half came just eight minutes in. Sophomore captain Mehdi Khemmich made a beautiful run down the right side of the pitch and was tackled in the box to set up a penalty kick.
Unfortunately for Fenwick, it was not able to capitalize. Sophomore Luke Murray stepped up to take the penalty kick and ripped a shot off the crossbar that was then sent over the net off the rebound.
While the Crusaders had St. Mary’s on its heels for most of the first half, the Spartans got some chances themselves from the likes of Derek Garcia, Nick Miller, and Mark Wood. Similarly to Fenwick, St. Mary’s could not cash in on its chances, and the game remained tied at 0-0 going into the second half.
For a team that simply came out flat, the second half message for St. Mary’s was to stick with the plan.
“The halftime talk was all about us sticking to the plan. We were looking to see how we could move the opposition, and I told them, hey, listen, it might not work, but we are looking for you to stay persistent, and the persistence is going to pay off,” said St. Mary’s Coach Eddie Kisakye.
When the teams took the field for the second half, it was clear St. Mary’s got the message to stay persistent. However, that persistence did not necessarily pay off right away for the Spartans. Although the Spartans began the second half with a newfound energy, Fenwick continued to play with the effort it had been from the opening whistle.
Fenwick’s effort and great play looked like it was going to propel them to victory when Murray sent a nice cross into the box on a corner kick that junior Jonathan Lapalme headed in to give the Crusaders a 1-0 lead.
Down a goal with just under 20 minutes remaining in the game, the Spartans showed the true heart of a champion and made a valiant comeback. Just a few minutes after Lapalme’s goal St. Mary’s tied the game at 1-1 on a goal from Miller in which he shot the ball from mid-air.
Tying the game was not enough for the Spartans as Eider Solis made a nice move around a defender, getting right in on the goalie to score and give St. Mary’s a 2-1 lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
Solis’ goal proved to be the game-winning score for the Spartans, and after a few last-ditch chances from the Crusaders, St. Mary’s took the 2-1 victory, finishing off the comeback.
“We have been working a lot on mentality and how to overcome adversity. This week’s sessions have been centered around that and what I wanted them to recognize is, yes, there are going to be games where they take leads and games where they have to chase games,” said Kisakye.
“It was a very passionate performance,” he said.
In the loss, Fenwick Head Coach Julius Pertillar was happy with his team’s performance.
“I am super happy with the effort and the performance today; they are trending in a positive direction – it takes time to learn how to win,” said Pertillar.
Michael Coughlin Jr. can be reached at [email protected]