The defence of the Loyola Cup rested upon a positive performance against a resurgent St. Ignatius’ College, Adelaide team in the final match of the 2016 Australian Jesuit Schools’ Football Carnival.
The team was greeted with gloomy weather – fresh squalls blowing through delivering deluges to the already sodden pitch from hours of overnight rain interspersed with periods of sunshine trying to peek through the darkening sky. The pitch itself had held up well in spite of the weather and heavy traffic with puddles forming only at the edges of the centre square.
From the outset, Xavier College was on the attack, pressing SICA high at every possible opportunity. The early chance would fall to Captain Sebastien Lock after a great corner from Nicky Edwards. Seb rose to greet the swerving ball with his head only for the ball to fly over the crossbar in only the 2nd minute of the match. The team were rampant and relentless in their pursuit of an early goal, offering SICA no chance to settle on the ball or push through with authority. Eventually XC’s time and pressure on the ball would tell and it was great work by Frank Kanesoulis on the left flank that created an opportunity for Mikhail Capodistrias. Frank whipped the ball in from the left, and found the feet of Aaron Fabris in the penalty area to calmly laid the ball back to a rampant Mikhail Capodistrias on the edge of the penalty area and he made no mistake, blasting the ball into the back of the SICA goal to open the scoring in the final in the 10th minute of the match. The charge never stopped there, with XC surging forward looking for a second goal to break the hearts of the SICA team. A great chance was created by Oscar Bertelle from one of his trademark long range lofted balls from a free kick on half way. Oscar delivered the ball with pin-point accuracy and Nicky Edwards delivered the killing blow with a wicked shot blasted at the SICA goal that glanced off a SICA defender and into the back of the goal in the 22nd minute of the match.
Unfortunately, this second goal proved to be the instigator of a SICA resurgence. Suddenly XC looked brittle at the back and SICA were laying siege to XC’s goal. If it weren’t for the heroics of Ben Luff in the 25th minute of the match, pulling off a superb diving save, SICA would have opened their account. Ben’s efforts would unfortunately only offer a reprieve until the 27th minute of the match when a SICA player was able to find space inside the XC penalty area after some sloppy defensive work and they were able to get themselves on the scoreboard and back into the match, with the score now 2-1 in Xavier College’s favour. This is how the score would remain when the halftime whistle was blown.
The second half was owned by Xavier College. Burned by the concession of a SICA goal, the team looked determined to stamp their mark on the match. SICA were pegged in their own half for most of the half, only able to generate a few half chances. Their go-to man on the right flank was wrapped up by an unyielding Frank Kanesoulis and with their only true avenue to goal shut off, they looked somewhat impotent up front. Xavier College on the other hand had no such issues. The match was broken open in the 52nd minute of the match after great work on the right flank by Daniel Roccioletti. He blasted past the SICA left back and delivered a pin-point cross into the SICA penalty area where Mikhail Capodistrias was waiting. Mikhail batted the ball down to the ground with one touch and then hammered the ball into the back of the SICA goal, giving the SICA goalkeeper no chance and the score was now 3-1 in XC’s favour. This effectively killed off the game as a contest, but XC never relented. Nicky Edwards continued to hound the SICA defence and he almost scored a magnificent goal late in the game after a jinking run to the edge of the SICA penalty area. He then ripped a curling shot at the SICA goal, only to be thwarted by the crossbar. Whilst disappointed, he wasn’t done yet. In the 68th minute of the match, Nicky delivered a superb long pass into the SICA penalty area from the left flank where Lee Gellis was able to swiftly get the ball to the ground before delivering a great short pass to the waiting Fabio Sacchetta who was able to tap the ball into the back of the SICA goal in the 68th minute of the match and the score moved to 4-1 in Xavier College’s favour. Two minutes later the final whistle blew and the Loyola Cup was successfully defended and once again safely back in the Xavier College trophy cabinet for another two years. Just reward for a team, that on their day can and will beat anyone. Today the team was in fine form, and was justifiably rewarded. We must now ensure that this good form flows through to the final three rounds of the APS Premiership.