St. Paul Academy goalie Ben Braman tried in vain to stop the decisive penalty kick by Rochester Lourdes' Hadi Berbari. Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune firstname.lastname@example.org
Gabe Salerno of Rochester Lourdes celebrated his goal with his teammates in their game against St. Paul Academy. Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune email@example.com
St. Paul Academy 'sJosh Gray celebrated with Lorenzo Pavoloni after Pavoloni scored a goal against Rochester Lourdes. Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Paul Academy’s Peter Wood walked dejectedly toward midfield, face buried in his jersey, the second Spartan stymied by Rochester Lourdes goalkeeper Will Elder in the overtime shootout.
Hadi Berbari of Lourdes strode the other direction, focused on deep breaths. The two teams had finished 100 minutes of championship soccer deadlocked 1-1. A successful penalty kick from Berbari, the fifth Eagles shooter, would decide the match.
His shot connected, giving the Eagles a 2-1 victory Thursday against top-ranked and previously undefeated St. Paul Academy at the Metrodome. It secured the Eagles’ third Class 1A state title, and their first since 1999.
“Will made that great save and I realized it was my turn to shine, I guess,” said Berbari, a sophomore midfielder and second half substitute.
No. 4 Rochester Lourdes (22-1) seldom practices penalty kick situations. But there is no way to simulate the bravery Berbari showed by volunteering to participate.
“It showed great character for him to put that goal away,” said Elder, who made two clutch saves to set the stage for Berbari.
Elder came through twice in a situation where shooters typically have the advantage, a performance his competitor could appreciate.
“His ability to make two saves — very classy,” St. Paul Academy goalkeeper Ben Braman said. “The teams today were so even and that makes penalty kicks such a cruel way to end a state championship. It just wasn’t our day.”
The teams traded goals in the first half. Lorenzo Pavoloni scored in the 36th minute to give St. Paul Academy (19-1-2) a 1-0 lead but Gabe Salerno knotted the game 1-1 about a minute later.
DAVID LA VAQUE