Dramatic, late goal salvages perfect season

Matt Steurer gains control of the ball during SLUH's match with Cherry Creek (Englewood, Colo.) at the Gateway Soccer Classic. Sheldon Shealer/ESPNHS

A perfect record for Cherry Creek (Englewood, Colo.) came down to the final second. Literally.

Cherry Creek senior Charlie Williams sent a desperation shot toward the St. Louis University High (St. Louis, Mo.) goal that deflected off the goalkeeper’s arm and trickled over the goal line as the buzzer sounded, ending regulation in a 1-1 draw. Cherry Creek (9-0) made the most of the second chance by defeating SLUH on penalty kicks to advance to the Bracket A semifinals of the Gateway Soccer Classic.

Cherry Creek’s dramatic result highlighted a day full of one-goal, overtime and penalty kick finishes. Three of the day’s 10 matches were settled on penalty kicks, three were decided by a goal and one ended in tie. The other three matches were two-goal contests.

"It was pretty exciting. That was my best goal ever,” Williams said of his match-tying strike. “It wasn’t pretty, but it was totally worth it.”

“I teach them not to stop [playing] until they hear the whistle,” Cherry Creek coach Chelo Curi said. “I was still yelling at them with 10 seconds left and to their credit they kept playing and it really paid off.”

An entertaining first-half between Cherry Creek and SLUH featured diving saves by keepers, balls cleared off the goal line by defenders and shots hitting the posts and crossbars – yet no goals.

SLUH’s Ryan Merrifield broke the scoreless match with a goal in the 67th minute. After Williams tied the match in the final second, the teams played a pair of scoreless overtime sessions.

In the shootout, Jake Gilchrist-Dudley powered a shot into the upper right corner to give Cherry Creek a 1-0 advantage. Senior keeper Blaine Barsch then saved an attempt by SLUH’s Joe Dedlicka. Cherry Creek followed with goals by Miguel Jaime, Adam Fisher and Cole Davis – the final one clinching a 4-1 shootout victory.

“I love taking penalty kicks,” Davis said. “It’s the scariest part of the game and there’s a lot of pressure. But I know my spot and I wasn’t going to do anything crazy.”

For Cherry Creek, ranked No. 9 in the most recent POWERADE FAB 50, the meeting with No. 49 SLUH was a significant step up from its routine matches in Colorado, where the team has outscored its opponents 33-4 before Thursday.

“[The win] wasn’t easy, but that’s why we come here,” Curi said.

Bracket A Highlights

Tommy Thompson’s goal 29 seconds into the match jump started a 3-1 win by Granite Bay (Granite Bay, Calif.) over St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.). … Christian Brothers College (St. Louis, Mo.) edged St. Anthony’s (South Huntington, N.Y.) in penalty kicks following a scoreless match. … Friday’s semifinals pit Cherry Creek vs. Granite Bay and CBC vs. Rockhurst. The consolation matches are SLUH vs. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Anthony’s vs. Peoria Notre Dame.

Bracket B Highlights

Dylan Hoschar’s goal with 4:30 left in the match carried Quincy (Quincy, Ill.) to a 1-0 victory over Beacon (New York, N.Y.). … Anthony Schmiedeler’s overtime goal lifted Washburn Rural (Topeka, Kan.) to a 2-1 overtime win over Jefferson City (Jefferson, City, Mo.). … Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) used penalty kicks to get past Park Hill South (Riverside, Mo.). … Denver East (Denver, Colo.) defeated Ft. Zumwalt South (St. Peter’s Mo.). … Friday’s semifinals pit Quincy vs. Denver East and Bishop Gorman vs. Washburn Rural. The consolation matches are Park Hill South vs. Jefferson City and Beacon vs. Ft. Zumwalt South.

Showcase Highlights

Chaminade (St. Louis, Mo.) fended off a late Jesuit (Carmichael, Calif.) rush to salvage a 1-1 draw between these storied programs. … O’Fallon (O’Fallon, Ill.) defeated St. James Academy (Lenexa, Kan.), 5-3.