By Josh Levine
PACIFICA — Bellarmine and St. Ignatius came into their boys’ soccer game Saturday afternoon with undefeated records on the line, but Bellarmine was also seeking vengeance, after St. Ignatius ousted the Bells from the postseason last year.
The Bells proved why they have shared or won the West Catholic Athletic League championship in 17 of the past 18 seasons with a 2-1 victory over St. Ignatius at Fairmont Park in Pacifica.
“This was our first real test for the season,” said Bellarmine head coach Patrick Lowney. “St. Ignatius is a very talented team and it was physical out there.”
Both teams showed their physicality by combining for 37 fouls and three yellow cards.
St. Ignatius (4-1, 1-1) took an early 1-0 lead when senior forward Gerry Kelliher scored on a pass from Shane Slosar in the 19th minute. Bellarmine (4-0, 2-0) kept up an offensive attack in the first half, taking eight shots and five corner kicks. Of their eight shots, six were on goal.
Less than 10 minutes after Kelliher’s goal, Bellarmine senior Michael Escobar scored on a controversial goal that sparked emotions from both teams. Wildcats defenders attempted to kick the ball out of the goal before it went in, but the line referee indicated that the ball crossed the white line before it was kicked away.
“We knew coming in today it was going to be a dogfight out there,” said St. Ignatius coach Sean-Michael Callahan. “We were in for a battle and Bellarmine was there. They are a well-coached program.”
After Bellarmine scored in the 52nd minute off a Brandon Morales goal, the game got much more physical. All three yellow cards were issued after the goal by Morales, and nine minutes of total stoppage was added to the second half.
“The first half was ugly and chaotic,” Lowney said. “That goal in the first half kept us in the game and really gave us a chance to settle in. As for all of those fouls and physical play, we know St. Ignatius well. We play them guaranteed twice a year; once at home and once on the road. I told my players before the game that this is a precursor to the type of play they will see in college.”
According to Callahan, this game does not mean as much in the long run.
“The reality of it is this is just another game for us,” Callahan said. “We have a long season ahead of us, and we lost our first game to them last season and we beat them the next two times after that. The game doesn’t mean too much and we need to look forward to our next match on Tuesday.”
SI: 19th minute — Gerry Kelliher
B: 29th minute — Michael Escobar
B: 52nd minute — Brandon Morales