Is it OK to celebrate now?
St. John the Baptist earned the right to play for the state CHSAA boys soccer championship, though it took some time before the Cougars could really celebrate.
They thought they had beaten St. Joseph's Collegiate after the first round of penalty kicks Friday, but there was a misunderstanding.
When SJB goalkeeper Michael Gaffary made a save on the sixth PK, the Cougars ran across the field to celebrate, but the game was not over. SJB's coaches and players thought after the first five kicks were completed it became sudden death, as it is in their league, rather than a second set of five kicks, the CHSAA state rules.
"Usually it's sudden death after five and that's the way the soccer world works," SJB coach Nick Gallagher said. "I've legitimately never heard [sets of five] before in my life. I hate to sound stupid. I guess I should have heard that before the game but I never heard that before in my life."
When Gaffary made the game-winning stop in the ninth round of PKs, his teammates were hesitant after their premature celebration, eventually deciding the time had come.
SJB advanced past St. Joseph's, 0-0 (7-5 in PKs), in the CHSAA state semifinals at Belson Stadium at St. John's University. SJB (12-3-3) faces Fordham Prep for the state title Saturday at 6 p.m. at St. John's.
"I had to celebrate twice," said Gaffary, who made four saves in regulation and stopped four PKs. "I have a technique I do [on PKs]. It's a secret, so I can't tell you, and that's what helps me to win."
The confusion in PKs gave excitement to a defensive game.
The best scoring chance was when SJB's Junior Rosero's 35-yard blast hit the crossbar with 4:25 left.
"I thought it was going in until I saw it hit the crossbar," Rosero said. "I couldn't believe it."