BERLIN- Visiting James M. Bennett ended Stephen Decatur’s boys’ varsity soccer teams dream of a perfect season with a 2-1 upset on Tuesday, but the loss could be just a pothole on the road to a remarkable season.
In the span of less than a minute on Tuesday, the Stephen Decatur varsity soccer team’s dream of a perfect season slipped away as Bennett scored two goals and then held on to hand the Seahawks their first loss of the year in the regular season finale. Despite the disappointment in losing its perfect season bid, the Seahawks clinched their first Bayside South championship with a come-from-behind win over Parkside last week and will play in the Bayside championship on Monday before embarking on a possible state championship run.
The Seahawks entered Tuesday’s game with Bennett with a perfect 11-0 record, but the Clippers had their own designs on spoiling Decatur’s unbeaten regular season. The two teams played a scoreless first half, although both had great opportunities in the first period. Decatur applied pressure on the offensive end throughout the first half, but could not punch it in. Meanwhile, Bennett had great looks over its own, hitting the crossbar on a hard shot from the perimeter with just over four minutes left in the first half, and on a hard shot from the perimeter that Decatur keeper Dan Cericola punched over the crossbar at the last second with about two minutes remaining.
The tension grew throughout the second half with both teams having great opportunities to score as the minutes clicked down and dusk settled on Seahawk Stadium. Finally, with 25:20 remaining in the game, Bennett broke the ice with goal to take a 1-0 lead. About 53 seconds later, the Clippers scored again to take a 2-0 lead.
Decatur, which had trailed Parkside, 2-0, in the penultimate regular season game last week before coming back to win the Bayside South title and preserve its perfect season, continued to apply constant pressure on the Bennett goal as the clock clicked down. The Seahawks got a break with a hands call in the box with just under 13 minutes remaining and Jason Stitely punched home the direct penalty kick to cut the Bennett lead to 2-1 with a lot of time left. Decatur applied constant pressure on the Clippers’ goal, but could not even the score as time ran down and Bennett celebrated the upset win.