Crusaders’ Ivinac dresses for the championship moment

It was a special occasion, so St. Mary Crusaders’ coach John Ivinac donned his lucky jacket.

Ivinac explained his choice of apparel following St. Mary’s hard-fought 2-1 victory over Cardinal Newman Cardinals at the 2013 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association girls’ indoor soccer championship Tuesday (April 9).

Photo: Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association

“The last time I wore this jacket was four years ago when we won our last indoor championship,” Ivinac said. “It has been in my basement collecting dust. That year we beat Newman, 3-1. So, because I’m very superstitious, I put it on.”

Ivinac says the team jacket brings back special memories, too, of former St. Mary’s Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations winning soccer coach Sean Kiely. The two worked together for many years until his retirement.

When asked if the jacket still fits, Ivinac smiled and said: “Actually, it’s loose. I was a lot heavier back then. I’ve lost about 15 pounds.

“It will go back into the basement. I’ll put it away. I’m not going to wear it again for a while.”

Photo: Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association

The gold medal was decided in a shootout after the teams played to a one goal draw through 40 minutes of regulation time (no overtime) at Players Paradise Sports Complex. During the shootout, the Crusaders connected on three of their four attempts from the spot (goals by Haley Nedelko, Alisia Robinson and the deciding marker by Sarah Sloan). Alyssa Cerino and Andrea Petrina replied for Newman, but Kristen Farkas’s shot was stopped by St. Mary goalkeeper Emily Piccini to end the contest.

Newman dominated play in the second half, narrowly missing on about a half dozen golden scoring opportunities. The Cardinals, who finished first in the standings, had a first-round playoff bye and were seeking their third straight indoor title. However, the final game of the regular schedule saw St. Mary trounce Newman, 6-1 – the most one-sided loss by any team this season.

“A lot of the buildup for this game was them saying that they were tired when we beat them (from playing six games at a tournament earlier that day),” said Sloan. “We knew they would be gunning for us, trying to prove last time was a fluke.”

A Grade 12 student, Sloan said the 2012 finalists from St. Mary were well aware of Newman’s key players and focused on guarding them extra closely.

Said Ivinac: “They (the Cardinals) are loaded up front. (Andrea) Petrina is way too good a player to keep off the score sheet. And they’ve got (Kristen) Farkas, too.”

Petrina opened the scoring when she turned with the ball, eluded a defender and drilled a low shot to the far corner of the net. The Crusaders then got on the scoreboard 30 seconds into the second half. Corinne Robinson scored into a wide open side from a scramble in front when Newman goalkeeper Caprice Major was on the ground and out of position.

Photo: Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association

“We didn’t quit,” Ivinac said. “That’s how Corinne scores a lot – around the net picking up garbage goals. Steve Shutt made a career out of it in hockey.”

Newman coach Anthony Sambuco said the Cardinals played well and came agonizingly close to making it a three-peat. “Every single lady on this team is an absolute stud athlete in terms of character,” he said.

According to Sambuco, indoor soccer has its merits and is not just a duplication of the outdoor game, which starts later this month.

“Some people don’t get an opportunity to play outdoors but play indoors, “Sambuco said. “This is a much different game. Players have to have excellent ball control. You can’t play around with the ball too much, otherwise, people are on you extremely quickly.”

In semi-final action, Newman defeated the St. Thomas More Knights 2-1, while St. Mary edged the Brebeuf Braves 2-1 in a shootout.

Other members of the title-winning Crusaders are Alex Arsenault, Jess Jozefczak, Lisa Kehoe, Hannah McGurk, Thais Melnyk, Lindsay Nedelko, Taylor Randall, Alisia Robinson, Felicia Spano, Savanah Grant and Carley Guenard.