BOYS SOCCER: Golden Knights prevail in nailbiter to remain perfect

Posthuma celebrates birthday with winner

Question: Is this the year for the Golden Knights?

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Above: Nick Posthuma, right, celebrates with Eric Verso after Verso’s goal in the first half.

By Scott Galetti, Staff Writer

LA CANADA – Sometimes, the best things in life are worth the wait.
For the St. Francis High School boys soccer team, the wait was long and arduous.
The Golden Knights jumped to an early lead against visiting Royal and seemed to have everything under control. But in the end, St. Francis was forced to overtime in the championship match of the Ralph Brandt boys soccer tournament at Friedman Field.
That’s where senior forward Nick Posthuma decided to celebrate his 18th birthday.
With time winding down, Posthuma scored the game-winner in sudden death to give the Golden Knights a 2-1, double-overtime victory.
Under extremely chilly weather conditions, Posthuma took a diagonal through ball from Nick Swart and fired a left-footed shot just inside the left post in the 95th minute to give St. Francis the warmth of its second consecutive Brandt title and fourth since the tournament began in 1992.
“Coach (Glen) Appels moved Nick from midfield to forward because nothing was working,” Posthuma said. “A couple of minutes later, Nick placed a perfect ball at my feet and I just placed it.
“We’ve been working on near-post finishing in practice, and it paid off.”
Posthuma’s goal was the perfect present for his teammates.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday,” Posthuma said. “I wanted to perform well on my birthday, but mostly for the team.
“I wanted back-to-back championships.”
It was just the third Brandt championship match decided in overtime and just the second time a title match went to sudden death.
The Golden Knights beat Royal 1-0 in double overtime in 1997.
Golden Knights defender Sean McGuinness was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
St. Francis (4-0) jumped on the scoreboard early on a goal by Eric Verso in the third minute.
Posthuma sent a pinpoint pass to Verso, who sent a shot past Royal goaltender Mathias Berbel.
The Golden Knights had a couple of quality opportunities to increase their lead late in the half, and both involved Posthuma.
Posthuma took a crossing pass and whistled a point-blank shot on goal, but Berbel came up with a huge save.
Later, Posthuma found himself on a breakaway, but his open shot sailed helplessly over the Highlanders net, and St. Francis settled for a 1-0 halftime lead.
Royal’s Paris Figueroa had a golden opportunity to tie the score when he raced toward the St. Francis goal on a partial breakaway in the 53rd minute. But Golden Knights netminder Jordan Bell made the save to momentarily preserve the lead.
Figueroa didn’t miss his next chance just moments later, as he sent a free kick over Bell’s head for the equalizer in the 55th minute.
Royal (4-1) had a couple of chances to win the game in regulation.
Marc Cianciullo’s high shot was grabbed by Bell with 16 minutes to play.
Bell caught Kenton Bowswell’s shot with less than five minutes left.
Posthuma had a chance to win the match in overtime, but his header deflected over the Royal net late in the first of two five-minute overtime periods.
The Highlanders almost took the lead in the second OT on a corner kick.
Jonathan Decker sent a perfect pass to Dylan DelCid, who headed a shot just wide of the target to set up sudden death.

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