DANVERS — The rivalry between the St. John’s Prep and B.C. High soccer teams goes far beyond their two-80 minute Catholic Conference games per season. Whichever squad wins the series matchup usually goes on to dominate their respective sectional (North for the Prep, South for B.C. High) in the postseason.
On Saturday, the Prep showed that they’re in prime position to rule in the Catholic Conference this fall after taking down their fifth league opponent of the young season, winning the battle of Eagles, 3-1.
“It’s the biggest game of the year for us and for them,” said St. John’s Prep head coach Dave Crowell, whose team remained unbeaten at 5-0-1. “We play a lot of tough games out of league to strengthen our schedule, but this is the Game of the Year. We both want the Catholic Conference championship — and it’s usually decided by one game.
“We had to win at home. It’s early in the season to say it’s a must win, but ... we had to.”
The two teams played to scoreless tie in the first half before B.C. High scored six minutes after the break, capitalizing on a corner kick. The play up until that point was evenly matched, and the game, for the most part, was played in the midfield.
Once the visitors scored, Crowell put his second line of forwards — Patrick Foley, Peter McManus and Mike Lanza — onto the pitch, and the three went to work.
Foley scored midway through the second half to tie the game, fielding a long pass from McManus down the left side of the field. Foley managed to get out front and his shot went off a defender. Less than two minutes later, junior midfielder Peter Kilcommons drew a penalty kick, which Greg French took and buried in the lower left-hand corner of the goal to give St. John’s a 2-1 advantage.
“As a team, we have great chemistry and weren’t worried about being down at all,” said senior captain Anthony Vigliotta of Beverly, who battled through a case of strep throat to play Saturday. “We fought through it. We just had a feeling that we were going to win, even before the game. It’s still early in the season, but it’s a great way to get us going with a big conference win.”
St. John’s extended its lead with 13 minutes left in the game after Foley netted his second marker.
The difference for the Prep had to be its depth and the ability Crowell has to sub different combinations in and out.
Junior keeper Zach Rowell turned away six shots for the victory. Kilcommons also had a superb game, drawing the PK and playing all but the final two minutes.
“(B.C. High) had the advantage in the first half,” added Crowell. “I just love that we fell behind, but the character of our team helped us battle back. They just stepped it up and took the game over.”