It’s a good thing the St. Michael soccer team scored early because the Teurlings Catholic defense wouldn’t crack again for the rest of the match as the Warriors took the Division II regional game 1-0.
No. 2-seeded St. Michael (21-4-5) dominated possession from the start but failed to score again after senior Mark Segalla struck a volley just two minutes into the game.
Segalla took the ball out of the air from 15 yards out with the outside of his foot to knock the ball just under the cross bar.
“We had to pop them early, so they wouldn’t come back on us and they wouldn’t have any fight left in them,” Segalla said. “We practice those a lot in practice and right as I struck it, I knew it was going in.”
The Warriors battered the No. 15-seeded Teurlings (7-17-1) defense for the remaining 78 minutes as St. Michael coach Paul Fletcher said he was worried his team was constantly one mistake away from a tied game.
Fletcher was forced to show his secret weapon early Wednesday night as he moved senior defender Joel DeRobertis to forward in the hopes of sparking some more offense, something he said he was hoping to save until deeper in the playoffs.
While DeRobertis did help generate some more offense for the Warriors, all of St. Michael’s 25 shots after the initial score failed to cross the goal line, as the Teurlings defense — primarily sophomore keeper Mac Cuneo — held strong throughout the assault.
Cuneo finished with 10 saves and several one-on-one stops thanks to his aggressive style.
“It’s frustrating to go out like that because we did such a good job, made one mistake and against a good team like that, if you give them a chance, they’re going to take advantage of it,” Teurlings coach Jonathan Walsh said. “Normally, I’m upset after losing, but there’s nothing more they could’ve done.”
The game turned physical toward the end as Teurlings fought to keep it a one-score game. The Rebels committed nine fouls in the second half alone, more than double the amount of shots they in the game.
During stoppage time in the second half, a Teurlings defender was shown a yellow card for throwing senior Ashton Fletcher to the ground as he and teammate Mitchell Williams attempted to kill the clock.
“We know every game in the playoffs is going to be physical because emotions are running high, and no one wants to play their last game,” Ashton Fletcher said.
St. Michael advances to the quarterfinals where they’ll meet the winner of Thursday game between No. 7 Ben Franklin and No. 10 Leesville.