Goalie Gillen’s goal game-getter

Netminder Phil Gillen of the Cardinal Newman Cardinals tapped both goal posts with his hands prior to the shootout competition that decided the 2013 champion of Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association boys’ indoor soccer.

And, as it turned out, that maneuver may just have brought him good luck.

Photo: Randy Smith (randysphotos.ca

That’s because the determining shot during penalty kicks deflected wide after glancing off the post to Gillen’s right. Newman players immediately rushed onto the field to celebrate their 1-0 victory over the Bishop Tonnos Titans at Players Paradise Sports Complex on Monday (April 8).

It was Gillen who also netted the go-ahead goal for Newman, while Tonnos goalkeeper Yannick Golanbari had his penalty kick strike the post.

“Talk about irony, the goalie scores the winner,” Newman coach Gerry Moretuzzo said after the Cardinals received the league championship trophy for a third straight year.

Earlier in the shootout, the teams each scored on four of their five attempts. Golanbari blocked Newman’s first try – by Marcus DiLoreto. After that, the Cardinals clicked on kicks by Anton Buretic, Justin Connolly, Poalo Mamone and Patrick Ciaramella.

Tonnos grabbed the lead in the shootout when Nick Matsos found the back of the net on the Titans’ first shot. Gillen, however, also made a sprawling leg save on Alex Rizzuti, before the first-place Titans got goals by Alfonso Larosa, David Zahedi and Brandon Lombardi.

Buretic, a Grade 11 student, said the Cardinals were confident going into the shootout.

“Of course,” he said. “Especially since at the last shootout (Gillen) saved every shot (a semi-final win against the Cathedral Gaels). “We always had it in the back of our mind that we have a great goalie.

“You can’t have any worries or doubts when taking penalty shots. Just pick a corner and stick with it.”

During the 40 minutes of regulation time in the six-on-six game, both teams broke free on several occasions for golden opportunities to score. DiLoreto rang one off the crossbar with about two minutes, 30 seconds remaining after taking a cross from Connolly. The Titans then nearly won it when Larosa found open space and blasted a shot that Gillen just got a hand on with 25 seconds left.

Bishop Tonnos earned an opening-round playoff bye for finishing atop the standings. During the regular schedule, the Titans defeated the second-place Cardinals, 3-2.

“It’s very emotional,” Golanbari said of the Tonnos loss. “We worked so hard. We’re basically a brotherhood inside and outside of school.”

According to Golanbari, he’s previously taken four or five penalty kicks as a soccer player, scoring on them all.

Buretic and Golanbari played together on the same Oakville U17 OYSL team last year.

Said Buretic: “We were roommates when we went to the Disney Showcase (tournament). So we’re pretty close. This was an exciting game. It could have gone either way.”

Moretuzzo said the Cardinals strategy was to try to wear down the Titans in the first half by letting more substitutes see action. Tonnos had fewer players.

“We thought we would run the heck out of them,” Moretuzzo said. “I’m proud of our guys. We had a bit of an issue last year with our leaders. This year, we re-dedicated ourselves to being a team. It’s working.”

The Newman coach said Buretic played a “fantastic” game after struggling slightly on defence in the semifinal.

Other members of the victorious Cardinals were Ian Paul, Anthony Cino, Josh Ciuro, Ante Dasovic, Matthew Antonucci, Tomas Skublaic, Fabio Tome, Anthony Valeri, Alen Audisho, Christian Pizzuti, Matt Tornifoglia and Alex Viola.

“This makes the (Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame) inductions a little sweeter,” Moretuzzo said, referring to the fact that former Newman greats Marc Kovacs and Lou Nagy are among those being enshrined Friday (April 12) at 6 p.m. at Michelangelo Banquet Centre.