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Above: The Warriors who attended the Winter Homecoming dance, posed for a photo.

Warriors use overtime to end Serra's season 2/4

It's that time of year, the West Catholic league playoffs.  Each year, the league is ranked 1-8 and the teams square off for a chance to be a co-champion.  The top four teams get to host a game, and this year, the fourth place Warriors hosted Serra in the first round.

After playing Serra to a 0-0 tie just one week earlier, the Warriors wanted to prove that they could win the game when they needed to.

The game started off with Serra attacking.  Coming off a last minute loss to the Bells, Serra was very confident coming in.  Early in the game, Ben Hansen made several good saves to keep Serra off the scoreboard. As the game went on, the tide started to turn.  In the 19th minute, Joey Stryker was accosted inside the penalty box.  The referee rightly pointed to the spot, and Jeff Coggan stepped up to slot it home, 1-0 VC.

Easily one of the most physical games of the year, the Serra Padres repeatedly fouled the Warriors players.  At one point, Austin Keeling was dribbling toward the sidelines, and three, yes three Serra players slid at the same time into him.  Needless to say the collision sent Keeling tumbling to the ground...

At halftime, the score stood 1-0 in favor of Valley Christian.

In the second half, it was much of the same.  Good chances for both sides.  In the 52nd minute, Serra would equalize.

Serra's star attacker Ryan Angell found some space and hit a laser of a shot from about 24 yards.  The ball soared through the Warrior's defense, and Hansen was screened on the play.  The ball hit his hands and caromed into the side netting. 1-1.

"If you're Serra, you have to feel pretty fortunate with that goal.  Benny is not going to let that happen more than once a season," Coach Basanese said after the game.

The teams would continue to battle, each looking for a chance to take the lead.  In the 64th minute, the Warriors thought they had done it.  Keeling hit a wonderful cross into the box where Stryker was waiting.  Joey brought the ball down with his chest and drilled it home.  As the celebration ensued, the linesman had his flag up, indication offsides. See the sequence below:

An anonymous fan standing on the sidelines said this about the call.  "I've been watching soccer for a lot of years, and I was right behind the ref.  There is no way Stryker was offsides, he just wasn't."

Needless to say, the goal was called back.  The game remained 1-1.  Moments later, Coggan had a chance bang off the post.  Just after that, a perfect corner from Keeling was headed just wide by 6'7" David Nettemeyer.

Hansen did more than his part.  After stopping a breakway, Ben saved a ball that seemed destined for the upper V (see below).  Moments after his great save, an Angell shot from 30 yards clamored off the right post, narrowly missing.

At the end of regulation, the score was knotted at one.

In the 8th minute of overtime, the Warriors would finally get a break.   Ross Mark took a free kick and Nettemeyer was assaulted from behind by the goalkeeper.  David was slow to get up on the play, and the linesman was waving his flag.  After a quick conference, the Ref awarded a free kick 12 yards from goal...but it was indirect.  Stryker took the kick and hit a square pass to a waiting Coggan.  Jeff was clinical, smashing the ball through the wall into the net. 2-1 VC.

Coggan is no stranger to scoring the game winner against Serra in the WCAL playoffs.  His sophomore year, Jeffrey scored in overtime against Serra to win the WCAL tournament.  Incidentally, today's goal was scored in the same exact goal.

The game would end 2-1, earning the Warriors (8-8-4) a second round match up with top seeded Bellarmine this coming Tuesday.  The bells took care of Sacred Heart Cathedral today, 3-0.

For Serra (6-12-2), the loss ends their season.

Afterwards, 'keeper Ben Hansen commented on his second half performance. "I felt bad about letting that soft goal in.  I just wanted to make it up to my team."

"This team has showed great character in the face of tons of adversity.  I told the kids in the locker room that it means something to be a Valley Christian soccer player.  Today, they took great pride in that patch on their jerseys.  I'm very proud of these young men today." Basanese concluded.

Game Notes: For Jeff Coggan, the two goals give him 14 on the season (career high) and 34 in his career.  Joey Stryker is now 6th on VC's All-Time career scoring list with 26 points.

Special Thanks to John Basanese Sr. for his great action shots from the game. The Photos from the game can be found here.

vcsoccer.com man of the match: Jeff Coggan (2g)

Serra 0 1 0 0 1
Valley Christian 0 1 1 0 2

Coggan (Penalty) 19

Coggan (Stryker) 88'

VC Starting Lineup: Hansen, Williamson, Zvolanek, Favre, Nettemeyer, Field, Keeling, Coggan, Mark, Goldsmith, Stryker

Weather: Partly cloudy, 64 degrees