Bishop Ryan Celtics’ coach Joe Cvitak thought his team would have its hands full in the playoffs against the winless and last-place Bishop Tonnos Titans.
And he was right.
Although Tonnos went 0-5 to kick off the 2015 Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic boys’ high school indoor soccer season, the Titans completed their schedule with an impressive tie just prior to the March break against the first-place Cardinal Newman Cardinals.
That set up a quarter-final matchup Thursday (March 26) between the second-place Celtics (4-2-0) and the Titans, who last season advanced all the way to the league’s indoor final and then captured the outdoor title in the sport.
Playing at Redeemer University College, the Titans held the lead at the half-time break before losing to the Celtics, 3-1.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” Cvitak said. “Their record didn’t indicate the quality of play that they have.”
In other opening-round playoff action at Redeemer, the St. Thomas More Knights (3-2-1) won 2-1 over the defending champion Cathedral Gaels in a shootout, while the St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves (3-2-1) rolled to a 3-0 victory over the St. Mary Crusaders (3-3).
First-place Cardinal Newman enjoyed a bye in the first round.
Tonnos grabbed the lead on a goal by Mitch Cassar. However, the Celtics responded with goals in the final eight minutes by Noah Bollert, Jacob Patten and Michael Fortino.
“The kids persevered and played hard,” Cvitak said. “We moved the ball and capitalized on our chances in the second half. It was a physical game.”
Patten’s head pass set up Bollert’s marker from in close and then Patten’s header accounted for the go-ahead goal a couple of minutes later. Said Tonnos’ coach Edwin Suva: “They scored from two headers inside … that doesn’t happen very often. And they’ve got the big kid up front (Fortino). He just out-muscled guys.”
According to Patten, a change of cleats at the intermission helped him to play better in the second half. For the first time this season, he went to a lighter and more comfortable pair of shoes.
“I kind of put myself in a position where I could play harder and play more aggressive,” Patten said. “It happened to work out for us. Indoors is a lot more fast-paced (than the outdoor game). I’m fast, so I like to play indoors a little more. I get to the ball quick and get out quick.”
The win advances the Celtics to the semi-finals Monday against St. Thomas More. Newman and Brebeuf tangle in the other semi. Both are 4:30 p.m. starts at Redeemer.
More’s Kevin Mutuga and Cathedral’s Anton Dushenko traded goals during regulation time before Jacob Zivolak and Nicholas Lovasic notched goals for the Knights during the shootout. Dushenko also scored in the shootout but two other Gaels did not.
Brebeuf blanked St. Mary on goals by Santiago Velasquez, Lucas Francella and Marco Anacleto.
Suva said the Tonnos soccer squads of 2014 were loaded with Grade 12 players.
“I only had three returning players this year,” he said. “For the rest, it’s their first time in senior soccer. Adjusting to the speed and the pace of the game was hard for them. We had a chance to beat a lot of teams here, but it didn’t roll our way.”
In girls’ quarter-final play, Bishop Ryan (4-1-1) topped Cathedral (0-5-1), 5-0, on two goals each by Samantha Serro and Chandra Davidson and one by Haley Kostyshyn.
St. Jean de Brebeuf (2-3-1) got goals by Jivan Yacon and Gabby Krebs en route to a 2-0 victory over Cardinal Newman (3-2-1).
St. Thomas More advanced with a 2-1 decision over Bishop Tonnos. Natasha Markovic and Amanda Mercuri scored for the Knights.
First-place St. Mary (4-1-1) will face Brebeuf in one of the girls’ semi-finals on Tuesday, while Bishop Ryan takes on St. Thomas More in the other. Both are 4:30 p.m. starts at Redeemer.