Nearly two decades of frustration bounced away on Saturday afternoon.
But that was not Jarett Nast's intent when he booted the ball from near midfield in the second overtime of Roman Catholic's 2-1 win over La Salle in a Catholic League boys' soccer semifinal at Archbishop Ryan.
The senior defender looped the ball into the box, hoping it would find a teammate. It took a high hop. A lucky bounce, Nast said. The La Salle goalie had come out too soon. He could only watch as the ball sprang over his head and into the net.
The 45-yard goal triggered a frantic celebration. No one expected a goal from that distance. And it sent Roman to its first Catholic League final since 1997, the year of the program's last league title.
"It's annoying hearing people say that 'you guys are never going to make it,' " Nast said. "We showed that we can. We put the league on notice."
Roman will face Archbishop Wood on Tuesday in the championship game at Ryan. Wood used two second-half goals by Mike Smith to power past Father Judge, 2-0, in the second game Saturday.
Smith scored on a breakaway five minutes after halftime. His first shot was blocked by the goalie, but the sophomore recovered and fired into an empty net.
"I knew I had to follow it up on the shot," he said. "I give my team everything, and I'm happy I was able to put that away."
Wood's defense kept Judge outside and helped Ryan Hemsley post the shutout with six saves. The senior was named this past week to the all-Catholic third team. He thought he was slighted. The motivation came at the perfect time.
"Personally, I just made sure I stepped my game up," he said. "And zero goals against Father Judge is an achievement. I'll take it."
Roman fell behind in the first half on a quick goal by La Salle. The Cahillites had allowed two goals in a game just once this season.
Roman coach Ray DeStephanis said his team was never worried. The Cahillites stayed composed and controlled possession for the rest of the half.
The defense's control led to offensive chances in the second half. And the Cahillites finally broke through when Brandon Gutekunst tied the game with 11 minutes left. The La Salle goalie collided with a defender as both tried to recover a loose ball. Gutekunst corralled the loose ball and scored from the right side.
"We fight hard. We don't just give up," Nast said. "A 1-0 early lead doesn't mean anything. There was plenty of time."
DeStephanis said Nast has "been focused the last two, three weeks wanting to make sure we get over the hump." Nast was aggressive and played with physicality. His game-winner came after he settled a ball near the left sideline, a part of the field he staked out on Saturday.
"It's just nice to get a bounce in our eight years at Roman," DeStephanis said. "Me, my staff, and my kids are usually on the other end of that. It was nice to get a bounce our way."
Roman Catholic 0 1 0 1 – 2
La Salle 1 0 0 0 – 1
Goals: RC-Brandon Gutekunst, Jarett Nast; LS-Tyler Colasanto.
Saves: RC-Mark Tobin 11; LS-Clint Ormsby 15.
Archbishop Wood 0 2 – 2
Father Judge 0 0 – 0
Goals: AW-Mike Smith 2.
Saves: AW-Ryan Hemsley 6; FJ-Mark Pohl 5.