OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Jumping out to a quick start with early goals in both halves, the Stillwater boys’ soccer team defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 2-1 in Saturday’s Section 4AA semifinal game at Pony Stadium.
The second-seeded and third-ranked Ponies (13-1-4) will host fifth-seeded East Ridge, a 2-0 upset winner over No. 1-ranked North St. Paul, in the finals on Tuesday. Stillwater defeated the Raptors (11-5-2) 2-1 earlier this season.
Stillwater scored less than three minutes into the game as Jared Allen notched his first goal of the season at a most opportune time — drilling home a rebound on a shot by Patrick Roth that was initially blocked by goalkeeper Sam Clark.
The Raiders (10-7-1) answered midway through the first half as Trevor Harrison headed in a ball that took a favorable bounce for Cretin-Derham Hall after an initial save by goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm.
“It was just an unfortunate redirection of a ball that went behind us and there were too many guys in the box to answer to it and they swarmed to it,” Ponies coach Phil Johnson said. “Our guys were not capable of winning the second one.”
Stillwater again scored quickly to start the second half as Kevin Meads scored a painful, but gratifying goal at 1:50 to provide a 2-1 lead. The sequence began with Roman Devine’s free kick that Jared Allen crossed back over to Devine, who took a shot the keeper stopped, but could not secure. Clark punched the ball out and directly into the face of Mead and into the net for the deciding tally.
“He was sure happy with it,” Johnson said of the goal. “It was almost destined to happen the way we were running in to frame the goal.”
The Ponies outshot Cretin-Derham Hall 9-4 and took 10 corner kicks, compared to just for the Raiders.
“All these games are, result-wise, quite close and you just can’t make any mistakes,” Johnson said. “We did a good job of second-half restructuring and possessing and we did a good job of putting strength where strength was. Kevin played a wonderful game and the central mids as well. I have to commend Sam Rasmussen and Jared Allen for their early determination to win balls and to take the ball into the attack. These guys pressed the attack and Jared had a wonderful game, a number of runs that he just showed his great determination and insight. Sammy was also effective.”
Roth’s pressure on the attack helped set up Allen’s goal and he remained a factor throughout the game.
“He’s got the speed and the ball handling and he’s got so many things that he does well, as well as having such a lethal shot,” Johnson said.
“The defense was stable and I have commendations to everybody. I’m pleased that the boys brought their intelligence and mental aspect to the field. I’m very pleased with how they played.”
Cretin-Derham Hall 1 0 — 1
Stillwater 1 1 — 2
St — 2:46 — Jared Allen (Patrick Roth)
C-DH — 21:00 — Trevor Harrison
St — 1:50 — Kevin Meads (Roman Devine)
Shots on goal — C-DH: 4; St: 9.
Corner kicks — C-DH: 1; St: 10.
Fouls — C-DH: 15; St: 7.
Goalie saves — C-DH: Sam Clark 7; St: Ben Wilhelm 3.