It’s hard to imagine a more unlikely ending to Columbia’s latest victory on the soccer field.
Senior Sean Rickey scored on a penalty kick with 17.6 seconds to play in regulation Saturday as the Eagles outlasted the Ladue Rams 3-2 in the championship game of the 61st annual CYC/Bob Guelker Tournament’s Msgr. Larry Walsh Division at St. Louis Soccer Park.
Rickey’s PK came after senior Adam Becker was taken down in the top of the left box by Rams junior goalkeeper Teddy Vincent. Rickey set up the play with a strong throw-in from the left side. Becker got under the ball and went to the ground in a collision with Vincent.
“Sean threw a great ball up in the air, and Coach (Jason Mathenia) always tells me to get on the goalie,” Becker said. “The goalie pushed me in the back and we got a PK off it. I’m not surprised. It was physical the whole game.
“This is incredible. It’s a good tournament for us. The seniors have never won this so far, so it’s pretty amazing. It sets the stage for the rest of our season.”
Columbia improved to 13-0-1. Ladue, which trailed 2-0 in the first half, fell to 10-4.
Rickey calmly made the penalty kick after the foul on Vincent, drilling a shot inside the right post for his 16th goal. But the biggest thing for Rickey was creating a chance for something to happen in the box as precious seconds were ticking away.
“There were a lot of guys in the box, a lot of chaos,” Rickey said. “I tried to throw it into a dangerous spot toward the keeper or toward one of our big guys, and hope something happens. It did.”
Rickey said he saw only bits and pieces of the play.
“I saw the goalie come out and saw Adam falling down inside the box,” Rickey said. “It’s a tough call to make, especially at the end of the game, but I think it was the right one.”
Ladue coach Dave Aronberg wasn’t so certain. He saw two players, Becker and Vincent, going for the ball. Becker, said Aronberg, had his back to the goal and was not in position to score.
“I rarely talk about refs, but I thought the ref left his stamp on that game,” Aronberg said. “It’s unfortunate when a ref has a stamp on the game. There were a lot of 50-50 calls, and I swear we got like two out of 15. And then to have that happen at the end ...
“It was a mass of humanity. You’ve got guys pushing and shoving all over the place. To award a PK in an awesome game with 17 seconds left, it changes the outcome of the game.”
With emotions still running high, Ladue senior Kam Malinich received a red card for swearing at a referee as players exchanged congratulations. That’s also about the time Aronberg received the referee’s interpretation of the game-ending play.
“He said the goalie took (Becker) out. We agreed to disagree,” Aronberg said. “But even with all of that, Columbia is amazing. That was the best team we’ve faced all year. That was the first game we’ve played where I didn’t think we controlled the match. I thought they took it to us. The better team won in the end. It’s just kind of a bad way for it to happen.”
Rickey’s throw-in from the right side glanced off a leaping Vincent’s hands and gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead at 12 minutes, 4 seconds. Becker’s goal in the box off a short header by junior Connor Jackson made it 2-0 at 32:55. It was Becker’s fifth goal of the season.
But senior Kyle Cook got the Rams within 2-1 at 35:40 with a goal from deep in the box, and freshman Grant Powell scored from senior Austin Powell, his brother, at 48:27. Austin Powell’s initial header was saved by Columbia sophomore goalie Jon Kuebler, but the rebound rolled directly to Grant Powell for the easy finish.
The game remained deadlocked until the deciding foul, which Mathenia didn’t consider controversial at all.
“With Sean’s throw-in, everybody knows it’s dangerous,” Mathenia said. “What’s crazy is that might not have been one of his best throws, but where it happened to land in the box area ... You could hear (Aronberg) yelling at his keeper, ‘No, don’t go!’ He was reading it before it happened. (Vincent) went ahead and went and takes out one of our players.
“That’s a legit PK, unfortunately for them and great for us.”
CBC whips Kahoks
CBC scored three goals in less than 10 minutes in the first half and blew past Collinsville 4-1 in the championship game of the Msgr. Louis Meyer Division.
Sophomore Nick Dempster had two goals and one assist as the Cadets improved to 14-3. Collinsville, which got a second-half penalty kick from senior Eric Tejada, fell to 10-2-1.
“They’re talented, and when we come out and not play to our potential, it makes the game a lot harder than what it should be,” Kahoks coach Clay Smith said. “We made some tactical errors tonight, and good teams will punish you. That’s what they did. They deserved to win. They were the much better team tonight. They’re so good in every position.”
Collinsville hung with the Cadets until Dempster scored from senior Simon Larsen at 17:57. Dempster scored inside the box from junior Ryan Gerteisen to make it 2-0 at 23:21, and senior A.J. Palazzolo hit a 35-yard free kick to extend the lead to 3-0 at 27:20.
Junior Sam Leach scored the Cadets’ final goal at 50:12, and CBC turned to its reserves halfway through the second half. Tejada’s PK came at 62:41 and followed a foul committed by CBC in the box against Kahoks sophomore Hunter Counton.
“I’ve been preaching to the kids to score early,” legendary CBC coach Terry Michler said. “Early goals change games, and they’re buying into it. I made a few little adjustments in the lineup a few games back and it seems to be paying off. I don’t know if we’re playing a lot better, but we’re scoring a lot better. We’re on a good roll.”
CBC finished with 24 goals in five tournament games.