WARREN, Pa. – Going in to Thursday’s District 10 Class 3A boys soccer championship, Warren knew it would have to play near flawless soccer to defeat the six-time defending champion Cathedral Prep.
(Photo by Brian Hagberg. Warren keeper Alex Ferry gets a red card midway through the first half of the District 10 Class 3A championship at War Memorial Field, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020.)
That task became infinitely more difficult when Dragons keeper Alex Ferry was red-carded 20 minutes into the match and Warren had to go the duration with only 10 players. The result was a 6-0 Ramblers victory and their seventh straight D-10 title.
“It’s a heartbreaker,” Warren assistant coach Chris Darling said. “All of a sudden it becomes a 10 versus 11, which when it’s already a Herculean effort you’re trying to achieve, it almost becomes insurmountable.”
The Ramblers controlled possession and generated quality chances in the early going, but couldn’t get one past Ferry (or the post).
Near the midpoint of the first half, Prep got a breakaway. Ferry came out to challenge and a collision occurred. The officials conferred and Ferry was given a red card.
“We felt like we were in the match at that point,” Darling said. “We were disappointed in that call and that changes the whole dynamic of what the game is.”
Two minutes later, Sam Louie had the Ramblers on the board with his first of the match.
He got the ball in deep on the Dragons defense, made a move and powered it past new keeper Ian Darling.
Louie’s second and third goals came just 26 seconds apart, and from nearly the same spot on the pitch, in the 28th minute. He got the ball on the left side and fired to the far post. The ball went past Darling’s finger tips and snuck just inside the post to make it 2-0. The third goal was more of a rising shot that Louie put over Darling’s hand.
With just under 10 minutes to play in the half, Jack Foht outraced the Warren defense and shot a laser into the net to give Prep a 4-0 advantage.
The goal prompted a change and Will Nebinski came on in relief of Darling. Warren’s coaching staff thought Darling’s experience as keeper in 2019 gave him the edge in a sudden change situation over the sophomore Nebinski.
“Ian was our starting keeper last year,” Warren coach Denny Flatt said. “We thought the experience rules out in playoff games.”
“The reality of putting a sophomore in that spot, it just wasn’t the right call,” Chris Darling said. “It was the right decision (to put Ian in).”
Padalino scored his goals seven and eight minutes into the second half. Dominic Padalino sent a pass to center and Vincent tucked it home to make it 5-0. A minute later, Vincent put a header on a corner kick to give Prep a 6-0 lead and put the running clock in effect.
“The kids played their hearts out, with a ton of emotion,” Flatt said. “That’s all we can really ask. They played well, they played hard.”
Chris Darling said the way the season ended shouldn’t diminish what the Dragons accomplished this year.
“15-0 going into this game,” he said. “We’ve got the district leading goal-scorer, we’ve got one of the top two or three leading assists in the district, and a defense that lets in four goals prior to this game and gets a shut out in a region playoff.”
Thursday marked the final time in Warren soccer uniforms for a group of six seniors. Ferry, Ian Darling, Sean Duckett, Wes Kiehl, Zane Anderson and John Page.
“We told them in the locker room that they will be missed,” Flatt said. “They may not be here physically (next year) but their spirit lives on. They left their mark on Warren soccer.”