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Head helps Flashes knock off North Pike, 3-1

[02/07/01] SUMMIT The first few shots St. Aloysius took in Tuesday’s second-round playoff game against North Pike were too wide. The next dozen or so were too high.

Finally, Michael Head took a couple that were just right and sent the Flashes on to the Class 1A-2A-3A South state championship game on Friday at 4 p.m.

They will face Mercy Cross (13-1-2) at Newell Field in Jackson. Mercy Cross beat North Forrest, 10-0 on Tuesday.

The Flashes (14-1-1), who have gone unbeaten in 15 straight, outshot North Pike 41-9. But it took two goals in the last 11 minutes by Head to lift St. Al to the 3-1 win.

John Theobald also had a goal for St. Al, while Michael Engle and Vincent Banchetti added assists. Goalie J.R. Alexander helped keep North Pike in the game with 25 saves.

“I am elated. My mouth is like cotton. It was so dry, I couldn’t yell,” said St. Al coach Shirley Agostinelli, who was near tears while watching her team during pregame warmups. “I told these kids yesterday, Never take another team for granted.’ I don’t care who they lost to or who they beat, any team can lose on any given day. This would have been ours. Instead we won. I think we wore them down with all the shots.”

St. Al dominated for most of the game, but struggled to put the ball into the net on North Pike’s field, which is smaller than most.

The cramped quarters as well as good defense by North Pike forced St. Al to send seven of its 18 first-half shots either high or wide.

“It’s hard for my guys to pull up,” Agostinelli said. “It took them a while to get adjusted. They played very flat. I’m not going to say they played a great first half. They didn’t.”

North Pike (13-5), meanwhile, struggled with the Flashes’ suffocating defense. John Paul Nunnery banked in a goal off St. Al keeper Andy Gough seven minutes into the game for a 1-0 lead, but the Jaguars had few scoring opportunities after that and struggled to even cross midfield in the second half.

Theobald finally tied it up for St. Al with about 13-1/2 minutes left in the first half, and it seemed only a matter of time before the Flashes would break through.

Nearly 30 minutes into the second half, to be exact.

After 17 more misses, several great saves by Alexander, two frustrating shots off the post and an offsides call on Patrick Sadler who had apparently scored from just a few yards in front of the net on a pass that came from a teammate who was in the left corner the Flashes finally broke through with 11 minutes to play.

Engle lifted a pass over the Jaguar defense from midfield, hitting Head about 20 yards from the goal, and Head dribbled a few feet before putting it in the low right side of the net for a 2-1 lead.

About a minute later, Head sealed the game with his second goal. Alexander went up to knock away a throw-in by St. Al’s Banchetti and missed, leaving Head all alone in front of the net. He tapped it in for a 3-1 lead.

“The goalie and two defenders all went up for (the throw-in) and they just missed.

“I just got the shot off,” said Head, who also missed a wide-open net early in the first half and was robbed by Alexander on two occasions in the second.

“I was getting kind of down on myself in the first half, but in the second half I just figured I had to get one.”

St. Al’s aggressive defense kept the Jaguars from making it interesting, but a late power failure spiced things up.

With about two minutes to play, half of the field’s lights went out. The coaches opted to finish the game, and the Flashes hung on.

“They asked me what I wanted to do, and I told them I wanted to finish this sucker out,” Agostinelli said with a laugh.