St. Amant fends off West Jefferson to reach quarterfinals

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant's Angelo Fabricio had an assist and the winning goal in the Gators' second-round win over West Jefferson. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

St. Amant star Angelo Fabricio came into Thursday night’s second-round playoff game sick, and throughout the course of the contest, he found himself on the ground after physical defensive plays by West Jefferson.

At one point in the second half, he collapsed to the ground as his legs were riddled with cramps. Still, none of it could stop him.

Fabricio assisted on the Gators’ first goal, and with the game tied in the second half, he made an amazing shot from just outside the box that eventually proved to be the game winner.

"Today was his first day back at school. He's been sick all week,” St. Amant head coach Adrian Garcia said. “I made him come to school today, with the chance that he could play. He's fighting an illness, but he came up with an assist on the throw-in and then came up with the goal. He's our guy, and we're going to ride him as much as we can."

Nothing came easy for St. Amant on Thursday night. No. 21 West Jefferson came in unfazed by the Gators’ high seeding and pushed them to the limit.

Fabricio and St. Amant had their chances to jump on top in the first half. They earned many opportunities to score on throw-ins and corner kicks, but they could never finish at the net.

At the 21st minute, Tristan Alexander sent a beautiful pass out front to Fabricio as he made a hard charge to the goal, but with a defender right in his hip pocket, he couldn’t get enough on the shot to score.

Late in the half, a corner kick by Fabricio set up Matt Parker for the header, but the ball went over the top crossbar. Seven minutes later, a Henry Ecker corner kick went to Fabricio for a point-blank shot, but it too went over the goal.

St. Amant finally cashed in at the 37th minute when a corner kick by Fabricio was sent in with a header by Caleb Critini to give the Gators a 1-0 halftime lead.

West Jefferson only had three first-half shots, but they put serious pressure on the Gator defense to start the second half.

Keeper Brenden David was forced to make a leaping save at 46, but just a minute later, a handball by St. Amant gave the Buccaneers a penalty kick right in front of the goal.

The kick just got past David to tie the game.

There was heavy tension as the clock ticked away. That’s when Fabricio came up with the play of the game.

At the 62nd minute, he charged the goal and stopped just outside the box. Fabricio faked left, stopped on a dime, spun around and launched a gorgeous shot that just got past the keeper in the corner of the net.

Trailing 2-1, West Jefferson’s final opportunity to score came at the 64th minute, but the shot hit the top crossbar.

The Gator defense was able to do just enough down the stretch to hold on to the victory.

St. Amant had a 16-11 shot advantage over West Jefferson for the game. David came up with five saves.

Coach Garcia was thrilled to come away with the victory, but he wasn’t happy with the overall execution of his team.

"We played 25 games this year, and I told the boys that we've never seen a team like West Jefferson,” Garcia said. “They brought a different style of play that we just weren't ready for. We had the bye where we had two weeks off, and [West Jefferson] was road-tested just last week. It showed. This is the third year in a row we've had a bye in the first round, and this is the third straight year we've come out sloppy.

“I’m glad we made the plays we needed to make at the end of the game, but credit West Jefferson. They came in and gave us everything they had. They weren't the No. 21 seed. They were much better than that."

The victory set up a Tuesday night matchup against No. 4 Lafayette (16-1-9). It’s the second straight season the Gators have reached the quarterfinals.

Back on Nov. 27, St. Amant beat Lafayette, 2-0.

Garcia said, ”It shows what these seniors have done in their time here. They've had the attitude that the quarterfinals isn't good enough, so we'll see what comes to fruition next week."