Josh Ciuro of the Cardinal Newman Cardinals went from zero to hero.
The Grade 10 student scored the only goal of the shootout to lift the Cardinals to a 3-2 high school indoor soccer playoff victory over the Cathedral Gaels at Players Paradise Sports Complex on Wednesday (April 3).
Photo: Matt Trabucco
With that result, the Cardinals advance to the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association championship game on Monday (April 8) at 3:40 p.m. They’ll face the Bishop Tonnos Titans, 1-0 winners over the Bishop Ryan Celtics in the other semi-final.
Newman coach Gerry Moretuzzo says it was fitting that Ciuro should be the only player to score during the two rounds of the penalty-kick tiebreaker which was dominated by goaltenders Phil Gillen of Newman and Jorge Silva of Cathedral.
“It’s ironic because Josh missed a glorious opportunity to score with about a minute and a half left,” Moretuzzo said “He was right in front of the net.
“I said, ‘you’ll get it back’. He became the fifth shooter and he scored.”
Moretuzzo made a point of discussing the turn of events with Ciuro after the game.
“I told him, ‘adversity is going to happen, but how do you manage it? Do you sulk? Cry? Whine? Or do you refocus?’ Ultimately, he scored the goal.”
Ciuro connected on a low shot to the corner.
“Everybody else was shooting at the goalie in the middle of the net or up,” Cathedral coach Mike DiClaudio said.
The hard-working Gaels had one last opportunity to continue the shootout. However, after several fakes, Nick Dushenko rolled an attempt wide of the post. Said DiClaudio: “Our guy had him beat but just missed the net.”
During the 40 minutes of regulation time, Cathedral grabbed the lead twice. Patrick Wilkon and Anton Dushenko scored for the Gaels, while Tomas Skublaic and Patrick Ciaramella replied for the second-place Cardinals.
“Our guys played like warriors,” DiClaudio said of the fifth-place Gaels, who won three of seven starts. “They made our school proud. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in a semi-final game.”
On the adjoining field, first-place Tonnos (5-1) got the game-winning goal by Nick Spiliopoulos with three minutes, 40 seconds left in the first half. It was a brilliant individual effort, spinning around in front before drilling the ball into the net.
“Fantastic,” Tonnos coach Edwin Suva said of Spiliopoulos’s spin-a-rama move. “You can’t teach that. That’s something a kid either has or doesn’t have.”
Sixth-place Bishop Ryan (2-4-1) lost 1-0 to Tonnos during the regular schedule and tied them 1-1 at a recent tournament.
“We thought it would be a tough, defensive battle and it was,” Celtics’ coach Joe Cvitak said. “It was unfortunate that the goal was on a powerplay. We were a man short when it was scored. It was a shin-to-shin tackle the referee thought was a bit too much. He gave us a two-minute penalty.”
Spiliopoulos, who also plays for the Toronto Lynx Under-19 junior development team, has a goal of landing a soccer scholarship in the United States. He did not play for Tonnos as a Grade 11 student but, according to Suva, has been a welcome addition this season.
“It was definitely a hard win,” Spiliopoulos said. “I know they were in sixth place, but they tied St. Thomas More and STM beat us in the season.”
Tonnos is vying for its first indoor title. During the regular season, the Titans defeated the Cardinals, 3-2.
“They (Titans) are a counter-attacking type of team,” Moretuzzo said.
The HWCAA outdoor season starts in two weeks.