Holy Cross coach Luke Sheekey said his squad wasn’t quite sure of its chances of claiming a district soccer title when the season began, but what a difference a couple of months can make.
The Tigers benefitted from two first-half goals in an eight-minute span and held on for a 2-2 draw at Ben Franklin on Saturday that locked up the District 6-II title.
“That was a good result for us today, and obviously, I’m happy to be district champions,” Sheekey said. “This is a great achievement for us as a program especially from where we’ve come over the past three, four years. This is something to have on the wall and show the boys that this is our aim now. Our confidence has grown as the season has gone on.”
Holy Cross, which is undefeated in its past 16 matches, fell behind early. In the 14th minute, the Falcons took the lead as a corner kick was never fully cleared, and, after a pair of headers, Donte Oliver gathered the ball in the box and beat the keeper low.
The Tigers (11-4-8, 5-0-3) answered just three minutes later as sophomore Sebastian Aguilar took a long shot over the Franklin keeper to tie the match at 1.
In the 25th minute, the Tigers took the lead as Ben Franklin couldn’t clear the ball off a set piece, and junior Blake Desselle gathered it far post and beat the keeper for a 2-1 lead.
“It’s good for the seniors to get a district title in their last year,” Holy Cross freshman center back Ethan Garvey said. “This is one of the hardest games that we’ve played all year. We’re really confident right now.
“We can’t remember the last time we’ve lost, so we just want to keep it up in the playoffs.”
The Falcons nearly tied the match before half, but a pair of solid saves by keeper Thomas Dugal kept the game at 2-1 until the 54th minute when Oliver drew a penalty kick. Miles McGuire calmly placed the kick just past the outstretched hands of the keeper to tie the match.
Ben Franklin (9-6-5, 4-1-3) had a couple of chances late, including in the 77th minute when Chris Chatters’ corner was headed off the crossbar by McGuire.
Ryan Fagan’s rebound shot was saved, and just minutes later another McGuire header was turned away to preserve the draw.
Ben Franklin coach Jose Ferrand said just like the teams’ 1-1 draw earlier in the year that the Falcons simply missed too many chances.
“It was a great game, especially right before the playoffs,” he said. “Holy Cross did what it took to get a result, and we just missed some of our chances by inches. Now, we just have to move on and focus on the playoffs. I think right now, we’re where we want to be.”