COLORADO SPRINGS — Holy Family girls soccer coach George Connolly didn’t dispute the legitimacy of the call. What irked the Tigers’ leader was the timing of it all. Yet once the whistle blew Holy Family’s fate pretty much was sealed.
After 86 hotly-contested minutes, it was a penalty at the worst possible moment that finally doomed the Tigers, as a penalty kick in overtime for top-seeded Classical Academy made the difference in a 1-0 defeat that eliminated Holy Family in the Class 3A state quarterfinals.
“He let that kind of play go all day long, and then he decides that he’s going to make a decision about the game, and he decides the game,” Connolly said. “You don’t do that as a ref. I have seen referees always swallow their whistles in a game of this caliber, in a game of this importance. And he didn’t do it.
“And I don’t like the fact that the state gave us three Colorado Springs referees. This should not have been an all-Colorado Springs crew.”
Entering overtime mired in a scoreless draw, the trouble began for the Tigers when a TCA crossing pass from the left wing made its way to the middle of Holy Family’s penalty box. Classical Academy forward Joanie Jacks had an inside track toward the ball for what likely would have been a prime opportunity against Tigers goalie Maggie Spitzer, but Jacks was taken down by Holy Family defender Micaela Blanchard.
For his part, the official didn’t hesitate, immediately making the call and signaling for a penalty kick. Jacks converted the attempt with a line drive into the top left corner that Spitzer had little chance of defending, leaving the stunned Tigers to slunk dejectedly off TCA’s rain-soaked field.
“I thought (the ref) did a bad job in the center all night, but that’s just me,” Connolly said. “But I’ll always say that because I really like my team. I love my team. We knocked the (heck) out of that team in the second half. We controlled play and they were hanging on by a nail. We just didn’t drive the coffin in. I feel bad for my girls. But as I told them, you have to make the best of every opportunity, both in soccer and in life. I was pleased with our play.”
The youthful Tigers put together an impressive postseason run after an up-and-down regular season, scoring 10 goals during the first two games of the state tournament. Holy Family, however, was unable to rediscover that scoring touch against a stingy Titans defense led by senior goalie Claire LaValley. Tigers senior Maddie Kuzik was able to get off a line drive shot with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in overtime, but LaValley was able to make a clean save.
“It’s kind of unfortunate that it came down to a PK shot and not an actual on-field goal,” senior defender Monica Stokes. “But I’m really proud of my team, and I gave it all I had. I think with each game in the postseason we became even better than the game before.”
Follow Pat on Twitter: @prooney07
The Classical Academy 1,
Holy Family 0
At The Classical Academy
Holy Family 0 0 0 — 0
Classical Academy 0 0 1 — 1
Goals — TCA: Jacks (PK), 86th minute.
Goalies — Holy Family: Spitzer (86-1-5). TCA: LaValley (86-0-4).