For the second consecutive time in critical playoff action, Bishop Ireton battled a higher seeded opponent to a scoreless draw through regulation and into overtime. Both thrillers went to penalty kicks on hostile territory for the Cardinals. The first time, the result was a gut-wretching setback to an old rival. This time it was a scintillating sudden victory over a relatively unknown opponent.
Ireton suffered a PK defeat on Monday in the WCAC quarterfinals at Long Bridge Field, the Arlington County artificially-turfed current home pitch of the Gonzaga Eagles. Friday, the 11th-seeded Cardinals took a longer bus trip to Richmond to play 6th-seeded St Christopher’s School, an all-boys school the Alexandrians have not faced in soccer for more than 20 years. Perhaps is was the coach bus trip, perhaps it was the Bermuda grass field on the St Chris campus that made the difference. No matter, the Cardinals savored the win, which sends them to yet another bus ride, this time to Norfolk for a quarterfinal matchup with third-seeded Norfolk Academy.
Once again, Coach Jon Norem’s squad played an air-tight defensive game, yielding few quality opportunities to the opponent and counting on their first team, all-conference goal keeper to direct the play and cover miscues. Senior Andrew Perham was flawless for a second straight start. Likewise, St Christopher’s avoided a fatal mistake and the Cardinals were unable to convert the chances they developed.
As the contest moved into the penalty kick phase, the clubs remained indistinguishably knotted. Through 7 rounds of penalty kicks the teams stood tied at 3-3, with Perham recording three saves in the process. In the 8th round opportunity presented itself and senior Kyle Delaney provided the game-ending, game-winning kick and a 4-3 final tally.
Game time on Monday is again set for 3pm, due to switch to standard time and the earlier sunsets on fields without lights. If the Cardinals survive the Bulldogs, they will head to Richmond Wednesday for the state semifinals. If you can’t make the game, follow the progress on the NA Bulldogs twitter account, @AthleticsNA .