The Queens Grant High School Stallions lost 1-0 Saturday against 1A powerhouse Bishop McGuiness. The Stallions who are the smallest school in the Men’s Soccer State Championship 1A Tournament lost against a very physical Villains team. This was the fourth round of the tournament the Elite 8 taking the winners to the Final Four.
The Stallions season ended abruptly, however, the boys coached by Mark Guercio who was recently selected Regional Coach of the Year had a fantastic and memorable season finishing 18-5-2 overall and 3-1 in the State Championship.
Unfortunately, two key defenders Jake Braswell and Mario Portillo were dealing with injuries, so the Stallions had some difficulty defending the midfield and holding possession throughout the contest. In particular the first half was a challenge for the boys from Queens Grant.
However, both players pushed hard in the second half and earned their badge of courage, but they were not playing at full speed which gave an edge in time of possession to the Villains. Also, Jose Duarte the Stallions stellar junior goalkeeper made 9 saves in the first half keeping the Stallions in the game.
The best opportunity in the first half came when Joe Piacesi “The Italian Stallion” had a break away using his speed and quickness and the Villains goalkeeper Jack Arnold made an excellent stop to prevent a certain goal.
In the second half the Queens Grant boys found their legs and started to apply a lot of offensive pressure on their opponent. When Stallion Wes Joyner was taken down in the box it set-up a penalty shot for Joe Piacesi that was nicely saved by Arnold the Villains goalkeeper.
Then with 12:00 minutes remaining in regulation Bishop McGuinnes scored the winning goal on a rebound. The Stallions still had some chances to tie and win this game. However, Mario Portillo guided a free kick to the corner of the goal post that was saved, and Noah Parker failed to convert on another penalty shot opportunity.
The Stallions had their chances to advance to the Final Four in their bracket, but just could not cash in on their opportunities. Coach Mark Guercio said, he is very proud of his team, he knew this would be a special group and it was a banner year.