By Ned Bekavac
It was the most important moment of the soccer season for the Our Lady of Lourdes Crusaders.
And they weren’t even watching.
With the District 10 senior boys soccer title on the line in penalty kicks on Thursday, the Lourdes team stood at centre, arm in arm, in a circle, facing each other and not watching the Orangeville shooter’s penalty kick attempt.
A save by goalie Matt Zamojski would give Lourdes its third straight championship.
“We were sending, as they called it, the ‘Z-vibe,’”said Lourdes coach John Donnelly. “We were sending the vibes to him.”
It worked. Zamojski made the stop to give Lourdes the coveted championship.
He followed up the save by pumping his fist and sprinting to the sidelines, where he got mobbed by his teammates.
“It was nerve wracking,” said the goaltender, after the win. “When it goes to penalties it’s scary. You just gotta guess half the time.”
Zamojski, who Donnelly said was to be treated with free chicken wings for his big save, made a couple penalty kick stops in the semifinals, too, as Lourdes topped Bishop Mac after both teams played to a scoreless draw.
The thrilling championship game, played on a muddy and waterlogged Lourdes field, saw Orangeville lead 1-0 early before Lourdes tied it 1-1 in the second half. Lourdes had several quality chances to win it in regulation but couldn’t find another goal.
The two 10-minute halves of extra time saw four goals scored, as Lourdes twice took the lead before Orangeville clawed back to tie it. The teams entered penalty kicks tied 3-3.
“You gotta give Orangeville credit, they had tremendous heart,” said Donnelly.
When Lourdes went up 2-1 early in extra time, they celebrated wildly. Donnelly had to reel them in.
“I told them there is a lot of soccer left, anything can happen,” said the coach.
Sure enough, Orangeville tied it less than a minute later.
The squads traded goals in the second half of extra time, too, with the visiting Bears tying the game again with four minutes left.
The teams were all squared up 4-4 after the first five penalty kicks. They then traded goals before Zamojski made the championship clinching stop on Orangeville’s seventh shooter.
“It’s a really good feeling right now,” said Zamojski.
Lourdes hasn’t lost a District 10 game during its run to three straight championships.
The CWOSSA championships take place in the spring. Scoring for the Crusaders in the game were Kirk Bulnes, Jack Pickering and Gabe Ricci. Jacob Miller scored twice for the Bears and Christian Leblanc had one.
In the junior finals in Orangeville, the Bears beat the John F. Ross Royals 3-2. Mitchell Fife scored twice for the victors and Julian Fife had one. Simon Alilovic and Isaac Bell tallied for Ross.