St. Mary's Olu George scored one goal in Wednesday's 8-0 win. (Item File Photo)

St. Mary’s boys fall in penalty kicks

LYNN— The St. Mary's boys soccer team knew that the further it got in the Division 4 North tournament, the tougher the opponents would be. The No. 1 Spartans saw that first-hand as they hosted a gritty, physical No. 6 Burke team at Manning Field on Sunday night.

It couldn't be decided after 80 minutes of regulation. Two overtime periods later, both teams were still deadlocked in a 1-1 tie. But after a penalty kick shootout, Burke stunned St. Mary's and ended the Spartans season with a 2-1 PK victory.

"Burke dropped down from Division 3 and they're a great program," Spartans coach Mike D'Agostino said. "We got a tough bid. We're a great team and this isn't the way we wanted the season to end but it came down to this. We went toe to toe and the intensity was there from both teams."

The early minutes of the game were quiet, as shots were few and far between. Both teams played solid defense in limiting scoring chances, but that changed in the 22nd minute when the Bulldogs found their way on the scoreboard. Burke was awarded a free kick from the 10-yard line and converted for the 1-0 lead.

In need of a big goal to get momentum back on its side, St. Mary's delivered thanks to Olu George. With under two minutes left in the half, George fired a one-timer past Burke goalie Lourenco Pereira to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the recess.

"That was a huge goal," D'Agostino said. "Olu definitely set the tone with that goal. He got a beautiful feed and put it in the top right corner. That was great."

Things settled down again in the second half, with both teams struggling to find quality scoring chances. A handful of big saves by Spartans goalie Richie Mateo and Burke's Pereira kept the game knotted at 1-1. Neither team was able to find the back of the net, sending the Spartans and Bulldogs into sudden death overtime.

Burke had the first stab at the game-winner in the 82nd minute, but Mateo saved a free kick attempt from Anilson Depina. George sent another one-timer Pereira's way in the 96th minute but the attempt was saved, sending the game into penalty kicks.

Both teams banked their first three shots. On the fourth, Burke found the back of the net but St. Mary's missed. The Bulldogs drilled the fifth PK to cement their bid in the Division 4 North semifinals.

Mateo finished the game with 12 saves.

"Richie had some great guesses," D'Agostino said. "He almost saved one of them and that's all I can ask of my goalkeeper. He had 11 shutouts this year and that's huge. He made a lot of great saves and kept us in it tonight."

Despite the loss, D'Agostino was proud of his team for a strong season and a solid effort.

"I'm very proud of my guys," D'Agostino said. "To go 18-1-1 is huge. Every player played well. I really appreciate all the work they did."

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