Anyone focusing on the St. Mary’s boys’ soccer team’s season record might not want to count the Pirates out of the 3A mix just yet.
Using precision passing, physicality and a clamp-like defense, St. Mary’s blanked James Irwin 2-0 at the Grace Center Thursday night. The Pirates (4-6-2, 2-1-1 3A Region 1) were impressive in earning their second shutout victory of the season.
“This is the best game the boys have played so far,” St. Mary’s coach Lou Sagastume said. “It seems like there are seasons where we’ve just got to continue to build and peak at the right time, and this is a great win for us. It’s just a matter of them coming together, and, finally, they’re starting to see how the game is supposed to be played.
“I’m really proud of the way they played today, and I think they’re beginning to taste victory.”
Senior Jacob Morales put St. Mary’s on the board with a goal off a pass from Alex Thomas 11:04 into the game, and junior Tommy King’s goal with 16:28 remaining gave the Pirates a key insurance goal. St. Mary’s, a state quarterfinalist last year, had various other quality scoring chances, but put enough balls in the net for the key league victory.
“We were moving it around well, keeping the ball and played well as a team,” Morales said. “We just played a lot more physical than they did and won a lot more balls than them. We switched up our lineup before the last game, and I think that has been helping us a lot.”
The Jaguars (7-3, 2-1) had won six of seven and had amassed a 41-16 goal advantage this season, but they could never get their offense going against the stingy Pirates.
“I told our guys we played well,” James Irwin coach Gary Douglas said. “We weren’t passing and spreading the field like we usually do and got a little off our game plan. We’ve been a little bit dominant, but it’s nice to get a little bit of a wake-up call.”
James Irwin also had ample opportunities to score, including a near-miss 13:01 into the second half while trailing 1-0. Several Jaguars stormed the net, with St. Mary’s goalie Kevin Kohlmann stopping a sure goal while on his back.
The victory came just two days after the Pirates erased a 5-2 deficit in a 6-5 win over Aurora West College Prep Academy, and the back-to-back triumphs have the perennial 3A power with renewed swagger going forward.
“We were disappointed with how (our season) has been,” Morales said. “We were down a little bit, but we’re looking forward to the rest of the season. We think we’re peaking and that we can make a run.”