Tigers’ state championship dreams come up just short

Holy Trinity boys lose on PKs in state semifinal


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Members of the Holy Trinity boys soccer team show their appreciation to the fans who came out to watch them play the Class 1A state soccer semifinal Monday night at Melbourne High.

VIERA VOICE

Two days before the Holy Trinity boys soccer team took on Orange Christian in the Class 1A state semifinals, Tigers coach James Phillips said the matchup was so close, it could come down to a coin flip.

And that’s essentially what the Tigers chances were Monday night, when after playing to a 1-1 tie through regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods, the game went to penalty kicks.

The coin, unfortunately for Holy Trinity, came up on Orangewood Christian’s side.

Holy Trinity’s first trip to the state final four ended with a 2-1 (3-1) loss at Melbourne High.

“Great way to win, terrible way to lose,” Phillips said.

The Tigers (18-3-2) had every reason to be disappointed Monday night. But they had every reason to be proud, too.

Not only did they make school history by winning their first regional title, they gave the defending state champions all they could handle.

“I’ve won a final four for club on penalties, I’ve lost one here,” senior Luca Campanini said. “At the end of the day, it’s something you’re going to look back on. There’s not one boy out there I can’t say I’m not proud of and didn’t give 100 percent.”

It was Campanini’s goal on a 20-yard free kick that tied the game at 1-1 after Orangewood Christian opened the scoring on a deflection that got past Holy Trinity goalkeeper Ricky Berthiaume.

“I knew as soon as we got the free kick, I was scoring that,” Campanini said. “There was no way. Final four. Perfect conditions. Perfect distance. It was going in, 100 percent. I never doubted it.”

Although the Tigers had a few more scoring chances, they had a tough time dealing with an Orangewood Christian team that was physical, fast and very dangerous off throw-ins and set plays.

Were it not for the spectacular play by Berthiaume in goal, the game never would have made it to overtime. In fact, Orangewood Christian would have won it going away.

Berthiaume was credited with 10 saves on the day, but the degree of difficulty on some of them was off the charts.

He dove. He slid. He got just enough of some shots to send them wide.

“I don’t think we’d be here without Ricky,” Campanini said. “He never ceases to amaze me.”

After Campanini made the first penalty kick to put the Tigers up 1-0, Berthiaume came up big again, making a stop on the first shot. However, Campanini’s shot was the only one Holy Trinity would make and Orangewood Christian would eventually pull it out.

“I gave it my all,” Berthiaume said. “I got unlucky on one. I saved it, but it hit the post and went back in. I’d do anything to take that back, maybe get a little bit earlier jump. But in the end, it doesn’t look like it would have mattered.

“I’m proud of the boys for coming it this far. We made it. We fought hard. We came back from 1-0 on an unlucky goal. I’m proud of my team. We just caught the short end of the stick. You see it happen all the time on TV.”

It was the final game for Holy Trinity’s 13 seniors -- Alex Hernandez-Pryszlak, Barrett Hess, Brandon Boyd, Gabe Soh, Campanini, Joshua Moisand, Justin Ganiban, Matt Austin, Jore Oni, Joye Oni, Nico Rousseau, Noah Benjamin and Berthiaume.

After going out in the regional quarterfinals last year, they vowed to win a state championship this season. That dream may have fallen just short, and it’s disappointing, but it also shouldn’t take away from what the Tigers accomplished this season.

“We’re all proud of making it this far,” Berthiaume said. “We did it for the school, we did it for (Coach Phillips). We tried to make him proud, tried to make up for last year when we felt short of our expectations.

“I’m just upset we didn’t get it done.”

At least the Tigers can’t say they didn’t give it everything they had. And at the end of the day, there’s no shame in that.