By Larry Moko
Bishop Ryan’s drive for a fourth-straight senior girls’ high school soccer championship game appearance almost came to a screeching halt in the opening playoff round.
The third-place Celtics needed to rally in the second half to defeat the sixth-place St. Jean de Brebeuf Braves, 3-1, Tuesday.
Other Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic league quarter-final winners were the St. Thomas More Knights (5-0 over the St. Mary Crusaders), the Bishop Tonnos Titans (10-1 over the Cathedral Gaels) and the Cardinal Newman Cardinals (8-0 over the ACMT Jaguars).
Semi finals are scheduled for Thursday – More at first-place Newman, Bishop Ryan at second-place Tonnos.
The Celtics fell behind in the 12thminute when Carina Konstantinou lofted a high ball from 25 yards over the head of backpedalling goalkeeper Karolina Kolodziej. Brebeuf also had a few other scoring threats before taking the one-goal lead into the second half.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we played in the first half,” Celtics coach Josie Petitti said. “Brebeuf outplayed us, outsmarted us and outhustled us. Kudos to them.”
According to Petitti, the players were told that if they didn’t improve they wouldn’t be advancing in the playoffs and their season would end.
“We made some adjustments and they really helped,” the Celtics coach said. “We came out in the second half as the team I know we are … competitive and athletic.”
Grade 11 striker Julianna Cellamare got the ball rolling for the Celtics with two goals – the first created by Lauren DiPietro’s long run and shot. Marissa Mestre completed the scoring.
“In the beginning we weren’t as strong,” Cellamare said. “but in the second half we got everything going. We started talking more and making better passes.”
Cellamare plays club soccer for Sparta and is able to outrun opponents to gain possession of the ball. Said Petitti: “Her speed sets her apart from other players. She gets there and gets those opportunities. I think sometimes she gets down on herself because she doesn’t finish as often as she probably should. Nonetheless she is a great player.”
Brebeuf completed the regular season with a record of 2-4-1 while Bishop Ryan ended up with a 4-2-1 mark. The Celtics also defeated the Braves 3-1 during the regular schedule.
“I think we battled as hard as we could for as long as we could,” Braves coach Julie Perri said.
“We knew we were going to have to play with as much heart as possible.”