PEABODY — After working so hard to earn a home playoff game, it’s never ideal to allow the visitors to score first.
But that’s what happened when Georgetown’s Kenneth Laurent slipped a bouncing ball through a mass of bodies and past Bishop Fenwick goalkeeper Liam Foley with just over three minutes to play in the first half.
When the whistle blew, signaling the end of the first half just a couple minutes later, Bishop Fenwick entered the locker room down a goal. But was Bishop Fenwick head coach Tony Enos worried by this?
Not one bit.
The Crusaders backed up their coach's confidence in them by netting a pair of second half tallies, including the game-winner off the foot of Andrew Perry with just 2:30 left in regulation, to prevail, 2-1, in a Division 4 North playoff first round contest.
“I just saw a gap right down the middle and I saw the goalie come out, so I just curved it around him,” Perry, an attacking midfielder, explained as a handful of his Crusader teammates gave him playful shoves and hugs, hooting and hollering as they walked by.
“Always, always, always so proud of this team. All year they’ve done this, they’ve managed to (come back). It’s a mentally strong team,," added Enos, whose team improved to 12-4-4. "They’ve got a lot of fortitude and they never ever give up. I was perfectly confident at halftime that we would come back."
The tying goal came early in the second stanza when Fenwick’s Liam Critchton sent a high-arching, beautifully placed corner kick into the mass of bodies in front of the Georgetown net. That’s when sophomore defender Keiron Murray rose high above the crowd and headed the ball towards the goal. All the Royals goalkeeper could do was watch as it flew over his outstretched hand, hitting the underside of the crossbar and falling into the netting for a Crusader goal.
Now tied at 1-1, Bishop Fenwick and Georgetown battled in a fierce stalemate that featured a whole lot of midfield play and possession flips. Fenwick midfielders Jameson Martinez and Cormac Hinchey were a blur all game long, constantly frustrating Georgetown attacks while quarterbacking an offense that was often jump-started by the pair’s precise midfield passing.
The playoff dogfight was turned on its head in its final moments when Georgetown’s Kenneth Laurent let loose a rocket from the top right of the box that looked destined to bury itself in the top left corner. Foley had other plans, however, as the Fenwick netminder made a spectacular diving save, stopping the shot cleanly in its tracks and falling to the turf with the ball firmly in his grasp.
Yet, before the crowd could even react properly to the game-saving stop, the ball was breaking out and moving up the field, finding a streaking Perry with no one but the Royals goalkeeper in front of him. Shooting from the left side of the field, the Crusader placed the ball on his right foot and accurately curved his shot home around the charging keeper to seal the win for Fenwick.
With a come-from-behind playoff win in their back pocket and self-confidence bursting out of the seams of their jerseys, the Crusaders will go on the road to face Manchester-Essex Thursday in the sectional quarterfinals (3 p.m.) at Hyland Field.