With hamburgers and hotdogs cooking on the grill for the boys’ soccer Homecoming game, spectators were ready for the intense game between the Cavs and the Buckingham Knights, on Oct. 23.
After losing to the Knights, 3-2, on Oct. 13, the Cavs knew they would have to play their hardest to come out on top in their Homecoming game under the lights.
“We knew we would have to come out strong and play our hardest to win,” junior starter Aidan Cunningham said.
And the Cavs did come out strong with many shots on goal within minutes of the starting whistle but could not score.
“Not finishing our shots really hurt us in the first half,” Cunningham said. “We had about eight shots, and we couldn’t convert them.”
Taking advantage of the Cavs’ failure to convert, the Knights fired back and pushed down the field. They were able to get the ball past midfield on a long kick down the sideline to an attacking Knights’ player.
The player centered the ball around the top of the box. He aimed near the top post, low enough to barely scrape by, but just high enough to be out of reach of goalie Brad Petchauer, putting the Knights up, 1-0.
Both Petchauer and Cunningham agreed it was a “great” shot.
The Knights didn’t let up on their pressure and tried to retain possession on the Cavs’ side of the field. Because of the Knights’ field position, most of their defenders were lined up around midfield. After covering a ball kicked inside the goalie box, Petchauer took a dropkick.
Petchauer launched the ball immaculately down the middle of the field to sophomore B.J. Askew, who finessed the defender with a dribble move.
Now in a one-on-one situation with the goalie, Askew aimed the ball to the bottom right corner, and it rolled into the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1.
Petchauer knew the dropkick was the play the Cavs needed to score with time running out in the first half.
“When it was in the air, I realized it was the best drop kick I have ever had,” Petchauer said. “It went a third farther than usual and right down the middle to B.J. I knew he could finish easily in that situation.”
Askew’s tying goal meant the Cavs could come out in the second half with more confidence.
After back-and-forth trading of possession, the Knights cleared the ball to the Cavs’ side in what seemed like an easy return clear for Petchauer. As he went to clear the ball, the Knights’ attacker read him perfectly and blocked Petchauer’s kick mid-air.
With the Knights attacking and an open Cavs’ goal, it seemed inevitable that Buckingham was going to pick up an easy goal. But an excellent recover by Petchauer forced a bad kick by the Knights’ attacker, and the shot bricked off the top post.
Freshman Nate Jakobs cleared the ball and relieved the Cavs’ fans of all the anxiety built up in the play.
Although the play looked easy for Petchauer to make from a spectator’s view, it was very complex in the moment.
“When an attacker is running at me when I am clearing it that far out, I have to decide if he is going to jump or stay down,” Petchauer said. “He jumped at a weird time, and that threw me off. I just had to sprint back and try to get hands on it. It’s a good thing he wasn’t calm and couldn’t finish.”
After recovering from the insane chain of events, it was the Cavs’ turn to fire back. Sophomore Theo Kaufman got the ball into scoring position and went to work. With his flashy pro skills, he juked multiple Knights’ defenders and gave a perfect assist to senior Jacob Durante for an easy goal, putting the Cavs up, 2-1.
After back-and-forth change of possession, the Cavs looked to put the final nail in the Knights’ coffin.
After a cross downfield, junior Jesus Galindo-Sanchez headed the ball to crossing sophomore Jayce McCain. Galindo-Sanchez’s cross was so perfectly placed, the only word McCain had to describe it was “delicious.”
McCain had a pure finish, guaranteeing the Cavs’ 3-1 victory with little time left.
McCain said he felt amazing after sealing the Homecoming game.
“I saw (Galindo-Sanchez’s) header and I just funneled toward the goal,” McCain said. “When it went in, I just heard the crowd get lit, and my heart rate increased and was just beating insanely.”
“My legs got weak; it felt like my femur was shaking.
The game ended shortly after, and the players and fans were ecstatic. Students lined up to form a tunnel to congratulate the players.
Both Cunningham and Petchauer credited their win to the team’s ability to win balls in the air.
Petchauer also credited specific events to the Cavs’ victory.
“(Durante)’s goal really boosted our morale,” said Petchauer. “It really gave us that boost to push forward and close out the victory. Our defenders did a great job on the open goal play. They stayed calm and cleared the ball out cleanly. They covered for me amazingly and didn’t allow them to score their second goal. ”
The Cavs’ next game will be Tuesday Oct. 27 against Cristo Rey (whom they previously beat 2-1), at 4 p.m. at Cherry Island.
—By Jake Longoria