Minutes before a penalty kick session that would decide the Catholic League boys’ soccer championship, a debate began.
After an entire regular season, then playoff games, then a scoreless regulation period and subsequent overtime – 110 minutes in total – would it really be fair to decide a winner simply based on individual penalty kicks, during which a disadvantaged goalie would basically have to guess correctly as to which direction to dive in order to keep his team alive?
If the informal poll had been chronicled and established as a litmus test, approximately 80 percent would have been against determining the winner in such a manner.
Regardless, the penalty kicks ensued, and by virtue of Roman Catholic outscoring Father Judge by 4-2, the Cahillites were crowned champs Nov. 1 in front of a huge crowd at Archbishop Ryan High School in Northeast Philadelphia.
“Beyond amazing,” said Roman coach Ray DeStephanis. “Seeing so many people here wearing purple … just amazing.”
DeStephanis described the championship-clinching goal by senior Stefano Aiello-Pang as “storybook,” and it would be difficult to argue with him.
Incredibly, Aiello-Pang was playing in his first game of the season. A serious knee injury had prevented him from being medically allowed to play. Finally, right before the championship, he received word that he was healthy enough to join his pals.
Then he went out and scored the game-winning tally.
“You can never give up,” Aiello-Pang said. “It’s not easy sometimes, but if you keep working, good things happen.”
Roman’s penalty kick success was made possible by exceptional goaltending by senior Mark Tobin and a staunch defense. The combination handed Father Judge its first loss of the season after 19 victories.
It was obviously a difficult pill to swallow for the Crusaders, whose season came to an abrupt end since Roman had earned the right to represent Class AAAA District 12 against Northeast High School on Nov. 5. Roman lost the game, 2-1, and finished the year with a 16-2-2 record.
“We knew what we were up against,” said Tobin, who made several sparkling saves. “Father Judge is a great team. Playing against a team like that is a challenge, but it’s great soccer.”
John Knebels can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103