DEWITT — One couldn’t help but cringe at the display on the field Oct. 3 in the second half of the boys’ varsity soccer game between Bishop Ludden and Jamesville-DeWitt, two of the premier teams in Section III Class B. Two J-D players were ejected for punching a Bishop Ludden player who was lying on the ground. The hit came after a whistle during the Red Rams’ 2-1 victory over the Gaelic Knights.
“We take pride in our sportsmanship and fair play, but that is not how a game should be played,” said Bishop Ludden coach Oscar Vergara.
The physical play by both squads began in the opening moments of the game. Bishop Ludden players were fighting for position against J-D, who owned a small height advantage. The Gaelic Knights found themselves stuck in their own end, defending the Red Rams’ attack. Bishop Ludden goalie Adam McMahon showed poise stopping shot after shot early on.
After a turnover in the midfield halfway through the second half, J-D’s Edgar Abramyan picked up a rebound off a missed shot and scored past a diving McMahon for a 1-0 lead with 21:27 remaining in the half. Abramyan’s goal appeared to deflate Bishop Ludden’s defensive effort in a crucial part of the game. While Bishop Ludden regrouped, Abramyan scored again four minutes later, this time streaking from the midfield on a breakaway and tucking the ball under McMahon for a 2-0 advantage.
Down two goals, Bishop Ludden had a difficult time controlling the ball in the J-D end of the field. Red Rams’ goalie Derek Russo stonewalled Bishop Ludden’s Ryan Cole on a few occasions. Bishop Ludden went into halftime needing to stop turnovers and kick-start their offense. The Red Rams’ physical pressure lead to total domination of the first half, and the Gaelic Knights were looking for answers.
In the second half, J-D wasted little time getting on the attack. Abramyan just missed scoring on two separate chances early, nearly putting the game out of reach. Bishop Ludden refused to go away, forcing Russo to make spectacular saves to stop Cole from cutting the J-D lead in half. With 11:48 remaining in the game, havoc broke out. J-D pushed the ball into the Bishop Ludden end, as Gaelic Knight defenders tried to get the ball out. After a few players scrambled for the ball, J-D’s Matt Northrup swung and hit a Bishop Ludden player, with Abramyan adding punches of his own. Both Northrup and Abramyan received red cards, giving Bishop Ludden a two-man advantage for the remainder of the contest.
Bishop Ludden failed to capitalize on the two-man advantage early in the penalty time. The Red Rams’ defense kept the Gaelic Knights from attempting a shot. In frustration, Bishop Ludden’s Jeremy Bergan received a yellow card on an aggressive play, his second of the game, resulting in an ejection with 7:16 left to play.
After an unsportsmanlike conduct on a J-D defender, Bishop Ludden was given a penalty shot with 3:55 left. Bishop Ludden’s Shaun Quartier made the opportunity count, scoring in the top left corner of the net, cutting the J-D lead to 2-1. However, that would be as close as the Gaelic Knights would get. Russo stopped shots in front with seconds remaining to preserve the victory. Coach Vergara said his team will grow from this game.
“There were some positives. I found some players that were willing to step up into some new roles,” he said. “We only lost 2-1 to J-D. This team is clearly four or five goals better than us. They played smart in the final 11 1/2 minutes. We just couldn’t control the ball.”
Poor play in the first half cost the Gaelic Knights in the game, Coach Vergara said. “They had two breakaways. And yes, Abramyan is a very good player, but we went flat,” he said.
Coach Vergara looked back at the officials’ inability to control the game in the first half leading to second half consequences. He said he knows both teams will rise upon what happened on the field and continue to play at a high level of competition.
With the loss, Bishop Ludden drops to 9-3 overall with the Red Rams improving to 9-2-1.