Georgetown Royals Boys Soccer '11

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 07:30 PM @ Georgetown
Team 1st 2nd OT Final
Cardinal Spellman 1 0 0 1
Georgetown 0 1 0 2

Georgetown keeps rolling

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Tuesday, November, 15 By Jeff Hamrick

LYNN — With a chance to send Georgetown to the Division 3 state soccer finals, Ben Noelk didn't even have to think about what he was going to do. That's because the Royal sophomore made his plans long before his big moment.

Noelk's penalty kick — the third in Georgetown's four attempts — proved to be the game winner as the Royals handed Cardinal Spellman its first loss of the season in the Eastern Massachusetts final at Manning Field.

"I just wanted to put it in the back of the net," said Birnie, whose kick to the left side of the net followed successful kicks by Matt Bitchell and Andrew Nowak. "I already knew where I was going with it weeks ahead. I knew if I changed my mind when I went up there, I was going to pull it and it would go somewhere else. So if you just keep you're mind on one spot, you'll make it."

Cardinal Spellman, which had won all 22 games it had played till yesterday and 66 of 70 since losing the EMass final the last time it made it in 2009, was stymied by Georgetown goalie Ben Warren on its first two penalty kicks and three of the four it attempted.

"I just try to stop the first one," the senior goalkeeper said. "If I can get that one, it gives our team one up. It's a huge mind game essentially. Everyone expects the goalie not to make the save, so if I can save one or two that's what I'm working for."

Georgetown (19-1-3) appeared like it wouldn't even make it to an overtime let alone penalty kicks, trailing the eighth-ranked Cardinals 1-0 well into the second half. The Royals had only three shots on goal the first 72 minutes against against a team that had outscored opponents 102-11 this season.

But a nice pass from Bitchell set up Chris Birnie, who made a lunging stab with his right foot for the Royals only goal in regulation with 7:50 left in the second half.

"I just remember looking up with with about (8 minutes) left and thinking I'm not going home yet. Matt just made a real nice shot and I was able to get to it. Anybody could have been there but it was me."

Birnie's goal helped a late-game surge by the Royals, who advance to the state championship Firday or Saturday in Worcester. Georgetown had two more quality scoring chances by Bitchell and John Laut, but both were stymied by nice saves.

"They played three games in four days essentially," Georgetown coach Chris DiFranco said of the Cardinals. "We had a day off, so I think that gave us a little bit of an edge. We knew if we kept attacking (the goal) would come. We had to pull a defender off, and that's a risky move, but it definitely worked.

"We knew if we went into PKs we would have it," DiFranco said. "We've been working on PKs for so long, every day ... So, we were very confident and we took it home."

Game Statistics:

Goals:  CS — Ryan Walsh; G — Chris Birnie

Assists:  CS — Nick Keddie; G — Matt Bitchell

Saves:  CS — Lenny Paoletta 7; G — Ben Warren 6

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