After a loss against Scotch College last weekend, and with it any hopes of defending the APS Premiership, the 1st XI was looking to bounce back against a side that has been a thorn in our side for a number of years – Carey. The Campbell vs Kontroulos rivalry goes back some 6 years now and still shows no signs of abating.
After waiting for Carey to eventually emerge from the changing rooms after what must have been the greatest piece of oratory from a coach in all time, the match began almost 10 minutes late. Unfortunately, the pre-match Carey talk seemed to have been somewhat effective, with Carey scoring a goal from a corner that the Xavier College defence was unable to clear in the 6th minute of the match.
This goal served only to awaken the sleeping dragon. Xavier College surged forward with the ball time and time again, with both flanks peppered. The Carey defence seemed to be desperate, barely holding the XC wingers at bay. That was until a surging run from Oscar Bertelle who cross the ball beautifully into the Carey penalty area to find the feet of Dean Di Pietro who found himself in enough space barely 10 metres from the Carey goal mouth and he made no mistake, blasting the ball past the Carey goalkeeper and levelling the scores in the 12th minute of the game.
Xavier College continued to test the defence of Carey but they were unable to secure a second goal in the first half of the match. Carey themselves would have further opportunities to score, but these were contained to the set piece – free kicks and corners. They had little opportunity on the XC goal from open play as the defensive cohort was working overtime to snuff out any Carey momentum. So the teams reached halftime with the score locked at 1-1.
The second half began in superb fashion after a number of insightful substitutions were made by the coaching team. Once again, great work on the right wing, this time by Nic Sette would create a scoring opportunity. Nic Sette danced around no less than three Carey defenders, took the ball right to the byline and squeezed the ball past on-rushing defenders to find the waiting head of the smallest player on the pitch – Nicky Edwards – who headed the ball towards the Carey goalkeeper who was only able to palm the ball up and into the back of the Carey goal, with the ball sneaking far enough over the goal line to secure a second XC goal in the 42nd minute of the match.
The match from this point was a tactical joust. Back and forth the ball travelled. Neither team prepared to take risks at the back, but neither team able to breach the opposition defence. The final seven minutes of the match was a demonstration of desperation from both teams. Carey enjoyed their best period on attack, surging forward time and again, dispossessing XC players repeatedly, and it so often came down to desperate tackles from Frank Kanesoulis, Oscar Bertelle, Tom Petricca and Captain Seb Lock to thwart the attacking runs by Carey players. Whilst they bent at times, never did they break. Add to this the superb goalkeeping of Ben Luff and this was a wonderful defensive display by a desperate team determined to keep their opponents at bay no matter what. So whilst the team had their chances to score more goals – Nicky Edwards loosed a wonderful curling free kick that bounced off the cross bar, Marius Sorace flew at a header that bounced centimetres wide of the upright and Mikhail Capodistrias struck the base of the left post – this was a determined effort by a team that would not be broken and would ultimately finish the season with a hard fought 2-1 victory.
I want to congratulate the entire team today. This was a performance based largely on heart, grit and determination, a clear desire to ensure victory at any cost. Whilst the Premiership eluded us this season, the team can look back on the 2016 APS season with pride at knowing nothing was left to chance.
I want to properly recognise and thank the eleven Year 12 boys who played their final match as a 1st XI Soccer player today. The class of 2016 has been a great and talented one. So many fine young men who simply wanted to play for each other and ensure they represented their school to the highest possible standards at all times. The Coaches, Sam Pang and George Campbell, along with myself, have thoroughly enjoyed the time we have spent with you all – some for four years, others for three, two or one. We are immensely proud of your efforts and you will all be greatly missed next year.
So thank you so very much: Oscar Bertelle for your fire, passion and grit; Mikhail Capodistrias for your determination, sense of fun, energy and enthusiasm; Dean Di Pietro for your never say die attitude and an ability to fight through the highs and lows of fluctuating fortunes; Anthony Ntais for your unending perseverance and perpetual engine; Ben Luff, a young man who only got better and better as a GK with each year, and fighting through a serious injury to show such quiet strength and determination; Tom Natoli for your diversity of skills and versatility in the game your love so much; Daniel Roccioletti whose love for the team and his school knew no bounds – no one loved to see the team secure victory more than you; Fabio Sacchetta for your patience, quiet determination and modesty; Frank Kanesoulis for your revolutionising of the left back position, outstanding defensive skills and attacking flair; Vice Captain Marius Sorace for your love of the game and the team, and adaptability across the pitch; and finally Captain Sebastien Lock – you were a tower of strength whether you were playing as a striker or at centre back, and now you are the most capped Xavier College 1st XI Soccer player of all time.
To the eight remaining team members, you now form the core of the Xavier College 1st XI team of the future. The team will be built around you all. Expectation is simple – you need to step into the shoes of those that came before you. I have no doubt that you all will rise to the considerable challenges ahead of you.