St. Vincent Pallotti top Gerstell to win its first MIAA C Conference soccer championship


by Joe DiBlasi

With 10 seniors, including seven starters, St. Vincent Pallotti was well aware that its best opportunity at winning the school’s first MIAA C Conference soccer championship was now.

And, now it is.

John Ikebudu (left) scored the first goal of the day, with an assist from Ben Mill, who scored the second to help St. Vincent Pallotti in the MIAA C Conference soccer championship game.

The Panthers capped an outstanding 2021 season, Sunday afternoon at Anne Arundel Community College, with a 2-0 victory over Gerstell Academy in the MIAA C Conference title game.

Pallotti played with urgency throughout the contest and kept the Falcons under enough pressure to possibly score four or five goals, but two sufficed quite well, especially with the way the Panthers possessed the ball and limited Gerstell’s opportunities.

Senior John Ikebudu put Pallotti (17-2-3) ahead just two minutes into the game on a feed from Ben Miller, and Miller got an unassisted score with 16:30 left in the second half to give his team an insurance goal.

“Warren (Mouganda) gave a good pass to Ben, and Ben found me, and I scored,” said Ikebudu. “We’re making history here. I’m a senior and we worked for four years for this. We gave it all we had.”

Gerstell goalkeeper Drew Sindicic was outstanding in the loss, making eight saves, including several from point blank range.

One man who has been through the lows to get to this high is Pallotti head coach Charlie Peterson, who has coached soccer at the Laurel private school for 25 years. He has been the JV coach, a varsity assistant and, for the last three years, the varsity head coach.

“We were confident coming in,” said Peterson. “We knew that they were the toughest team in the league, since we tied them (0-0) earlier in the year. Gerstell is a really tough team but it was our day today. This is the best Pallotti team we’ve ever had.”

Indeed the Panthers and Falcons (12-2-2) proved to be the two top teams in the C Conference this season. Both went undefeated in league play and their only meeting ended in a scoreless, double-overtime draw.

A gracious Falcons’ coach Ashley Murphy congratulated Pallotti.

“They had a fantastic year,” said Murphy. “They have a great program. Our boys performed extremely well today, and throughout the season and I’m proud of them.”

At the start of the game, Pallotti allowed injured senior Tony Bello, one of the players Peterson pointed to as a cornerstone of program, take the field with the starters. After the opening kick, Bello departed.

“Tommy Bello, a four-year starter, couldn’t play and it was killing him,” said Peterson. “The other guys picked up the slack. They made sure he go this; that we got this.

“This one was 25 years in the making.”

MIAA C CONFERENCE SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
(at Anne Arundel Community College)

ST. VINCENT PALLOTTI 2, GERSTELL ACADEMY 0

GER 0 0 — 0
SVP 1 1 — 2

GOALS: SVP-John Ikebudu, Ben Miller.
ASSIST: SVP-Miller.
SAVES: GER-Drew Sindicic 8; SVP-Travis Holiday 3.