St. Al slams St. Joe again

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 19, 2001

[01/19/01] The St. Aloysius Flashes are becoming masters of the muck. Thursday, they also became masters of their division.

Michael Head scored three goals and Michael Strickland had two as St. Al (10-1, 3-0 in division) wrapped up the Division 5-1A title and clinched a playoff berth for the first time in four years with a 5-2 win over Madison-St. Joe.

It was St. Al’s second win on a swampy field over St. Joe this week. The Flashes won 2-1 at Madison on Tuesday. The wins gave St. Joe (7-2, 1-2) its two division losses and clinched the division title for St. Al, but coach Shirley Agostinelli wasn’t counting on anything just yet.

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“This does clinch a playoff berth. But I am the type of person that I don’t believe anything until they tell me in writing,” said Agostinelli, who missed the playoffs in 1998 by a single goal on a tiebreaker. “I am thrilled to death for them. These kids have worked so hard … This is a very, very, very big win for the St. Al soccer team. I am very proud of these kids.”

St. Al outshot Madison 19-12, never trailed, and dominated on a field that had been saturated by three straight days of rain.

“They came out really hungry, they really did. They beat us to the ball and they just outplayed us,” St. Joe coach Dave Wissel said, adding that St. Al goalkeeper Andy Gough, who had 10 saves, was a big factor. “Their goalie, in two games we’ve played, he’s made some miraculous saves on dead-on shots. It wasn’t our time. It was St. Al’s time.”

Strickland’s first goal, on a free kick from just outside the goal box 12 minutes into the game, gave the Flashes a 1-0 lead. Head made it 2-0 about 11 minutes later on a second effort. He gathered in a loose ball about 10 yards from the St. Joe goal, dribbled in and was stopped by St. Joe’s goalkeeper. The ball squirted free, however, and Head lunged to his right and kicked the ball into the open net.

Madison’s Bobby Graham cut the lead to 2-1 with just under nine minutes to play in the first half when he headed in a throw-in from Matt Nicosia, but the Flashes got the goal back two minutes later. John Theobald lifted a shot over the keeper that hit the post and Head knocked the rebound in.

“I had told Michael Head, whatever’s there, if they miss it and it bounces off that crossbar, clean up the trash. And he did it twice in the first half,” Agostinelli said.

St. Al used an unexpected opportunity to put the game away.

With just under 16 minutes left, Strickland booted a free kick toward the net. He was trying to pass it, but the ball bounced into the net for a 4-1 lead.

“It gave us a little area to work with. We could sit back and rest some,” Strickland said. “I was trying to kick it to Beau (Theobald) and there was a guy on his back and when he moved, the guy went with him and it just cleared out …”

Nicosia scored on a penalty kick with 31/2 minutes to play to cut it to 4-2, but it was too little, too late for the Bruins as Head completed his hat trick with a short header with less than a minute left.

“It feels real good,” Strickland said. “We haven’t gotten there the last few years and we felt like we pretty much should. This year’s great, and we’re going all the way.”