The season ended abruptly for the St. Mary’s High boys’ soccer team on Thursday, as the Panthers slipped and slid around their own field in a 2-1 loss to Berean Christian.
Forward Andrew Jacobsmeyer scored both goals for the No. 4 Eagles, bringing his team back from an early 1-0 deficit to move on to the BSAL final. St. Mary’s, the second seed, has now lost to lower seeds in the playoffs for the last two seasons.
“Jacobsmeyer made his mark today, just like he has all season,” St. Mary’s head coach Teale Matteson said. “We didn’t make a lot of mistakes, but the ones we did make cost us.”
Berean Christian’s first goal was more a matter of luck than anything else. Parker Gustaveson put a ball skipping through the St. Mary’s box, and it was headed right for Panther goalkeeper Nick Osborn. But the ball took a funny hop and somehow ended up behind Osborn, and Jacobsmeyer pounced to put the ball in the back of the net to tie the game 1-1 after 16 minutes.
Jacobsmeyer’s second goal came under more normal circumstances, as Ross Crown put him through with a flick header. Osborn had no chance as Jacobsmeyer slammed the ball past him, and the Panthers couldn’t answer back in the remaining 20 minutes of play.
“None of the goals today were real pretty,” Berean Christian coach John Hunt said. “The water affected pretty much everything and slowed the game down.”
St. Mary’s went ahead in the 5th minute when Andrew Nackerud chested home a free kick by teammate Stephon McGrew. But although the Panthers would get plenty of other chances, they couldn’t convert. Berean Christian goalkeeper Miguel Schiapappietra seemed to be a magnet for the ball, making 12 saves as most of the St. Mary’s shots went right at him.
“It was to his credit that he held on to all of those shots. That’s not easy in these conditions,” Matteson said of the Eagle goalie.
It looked as if the Panthers had equalized late in the second half when a scrum broke out in front of the Berean Christian goal. St. Mary’s defender Sean Rogan nudged the ball over the line after nearly every player on the field had taken a hack at it, but the referee ruled Rogan had kicked the ball out of Schiapappietra’s hands negating the goal and giving the Eagles a free kick.
Matteson refused to second-guess the call, complimenting the officiating.
“Officiating was not a factor in the outcome of today’s game,” he said. “Of course you want a couple more calls to go your way, but he called what he saw.”
The St. Mary’s attack was slowed not only by the field conditions, but by a saavy defensive plan by the Eagles. Hunt’s plan was to limit McGrew’s touches in the midfield and keep him from getting shots with his left foot. As a result, the Panthers were forced to attack down the wings rather than up the middle, and getting accurate crosses off in the mud proved an impossibility.
Matteson said he plans to go to the North Coast Section seeding meeting on Sunday to apply for an at-large berth for the Division IV playoffs. He didn’t attend the meeting last season after losing to St. Joseph in the BSAL playoffs and later found out the Panthers likely would have won a spot, so this year he isn’t taking any chances.
“I didn’t think we’d make it last year, but we would have,” he said. “So why not go and try again this year?”