It took just a split-second for Chaminade’s promising season to come to a screeching halt.
Tied with Canisius (Buffalo) 1-1 in sudden-death double overtime, it was just one defensive lapse that cost the Flyers.
Canisius’ James Gallagher broke through the defense and fed a pass across to Austin Zaepfel, who scored on a quick shot from in the box that hit the top of the net to the left of sprawling Chaminade goalie Brian Westerman 10 minutes into overtime in the CHSAA state title game Sunday afternoon at St. John’s University.
“Soccer is a funny game,” Chaminade coach Michael Gallagher said. “Unfortunately, this is the outcome of it, but it’s still a championship game and we’re proud as heck to get here.”
The goal by Zaepfel came just 28 seconds into the second overtime. Chaminade (13-4-5) had plenty of chances in the first overtime, but couldn’t convert them. The Flyers sent two headers over the net in the initial overtime and ran into a hot goalkeeper in Paul Burich, who stopped all three shots he faced in overtime, including a diving save from point-blank range to rob midfielder Kyle Walsh.
“It was unfortunate that we had so many opportunities and one didn’t fall for us,” Gallagher said. “I kind of thought we had the better of the play. In the end, there was a little bit of a mistake in the back, but it’s not something I want to dwell on.”
Canisius (16-4-2) struck first in the eighth minute as Westerman came out of his net and attempted to scoop up a loose ball, but the ball bounced over his head and Kevin Armstrong kicked it into the empty net to give Canisius an early 1-0 lead.
Canisus held the lead until a crucial handball set up a penalty kick for Chaminade. Senior forward Hunter Frey took the opportunity and cashed in as he kicked the ball past Burich in the 64th minute to tie the game at one.
“I hit [a penalty kick] in the Catholic League finals to win it too,” Frey said. “I kind of had the same feeling to just get it in and move on and try to get the game-winner.”
The goal was the only time Chaminade would beat Burich, who ended up with 10 saves, while Westerman stopped six shots, one coming in the extra frame.
The loss was tough to swallow for Chaminade, which was vying for its first state title since 2010 and fifth in 10 years.
“This was a great season and we couldn’t ask for anything more,” Frey said. “I just wish we could have won, but we had a great bunch of guys.”
While the season ultimately didn’t end as Chaminade would have liked, there is still promise for the future as the team was split almost down the middle between seniors and juniors and Gallagher knows he has a strong returning core next season.
“The junior class has been exceptional this year,” Gallagher said. “Hopefully we can fight to get back here next year. That’s our goal. That’s our goal every year.”