Over the last 240 minutes and three games against one another, St. Patrick and Mason County were unable to find a winner on the pitch.
Thursday night that changed as Brock Gilligan’s goal in the 58th minute was the difference maker, pushing the Royals past the Saints 1-0 in a highly competitive contest at the Carmeuse Facility.
“I told you guys at the beginning of the season a tie is a loss to me. This would have been the worst loss of the entire season if they came to our house and tied us again, I probably would have cried my eyes out tonight,” Royals coach Daniel Forsythe said.
Mario Soto would do the rest with 15 saves on the night.
“Mario Soto is so much better today then the first time we played St. Pat,” Forsythe said.
Soto allowed four goals the first contest between the two.
“He’s a totally different keeper and takes to heart what we teach him in practice and he implements it in games. He’s an excellent, coachable student,” Forsythe added.
Early on, it was Mason County pushing the envelop over the first 10 minutes of play, controlling possession and having the ball in the Saints half of the field. Nothing was able to shake from it and then the Saints gathered momentum from there, piling up shots on goal, but unable to find the back of the net.
In one sequence, it looked as if there was a brick wall in the Royals net with Soto saving three point blank Saints shots off a corner kick, none able to get past him until a shot sailed way over the crossbar to give the Royals possession.
Opportunities continued to pile up as the Saints put up 16 shots and 11 on goal in the first 40 minutes, while the Royals were able to put up seven shots and five on goal in the half.
Things abruptly changed in the second half.
It was the Royals doing the attacking for the majority as freshman Caleb Poczatek was able to keep the Royals at bay for the first 22 minutes, until Gilligan’s chip shot after a corner kick was deflected back to him, sailed over Poczatek’s head and into the back of the net.
“Like I always tell all my kids, every shot that you take has the potential to go in. No matter what angle you are taking it from, as long as you put it on net, you’ve got an opportunity,” Forsythe said.
Things would get chippy from there in the rivalry contest as stoppages hit with the two sides trading exchanges of words.
“We didn’t play our game. We didn’t play as a team and that showed tonight. We just need to clear our heads,” Saints coach Michael Parsons said.
The Saints frustration continued to show as they were booked for a couple of yellow cards in the closing minutes, expressing their displeasure for the officiating. They were unable to find the equalizer in the closing minutes as Soto continued to rack up saves and got a little help from the crossbar as Alain Lopez’s shot hit off it in the 66th minute for the Saints final real serious opportunity.
The loss dropped the Saints record to 4-4-1, losing their fourth straight contest.
“If I knew what happened tonight, then I could explain it, but I can’t. They didn’t play as a team and plain and simple they beat themselves,” Parsons said.
Poczatek tallied 10 saves in the losing effort.
“He had a handful of excellent saves tonight. He’s just a freshman, he should not be that good as a freshman. He’s doing really well,” Forsythe said.
They’ll look to regroup on Saturday when they host West Carter on Saturday at 3 p.m., at Wald Park.
The Royals improved to 5-5-1 with the victory, snapping a two-game losing streak. Their next contest comes on Saturday at home against Paris at 10 a.m.
ROYALS 1, SAINTS 0
Goals: Gilligan (58th minute)
Shots (On goal): St. Pat 25 (15), Mason 18 (11)
Corner Kicks: St. Pat 5, Mason 11
Saves: St. Pat 10 (Poczatek), Mason 15 (Soto)
Records: St. Patrick 4-4-1, Mason County 5-5-1