15 Sep 2014
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Leva Lifts Chaminade Soccer to 2012 Finals

Flyers to meet St. Anthony’s in championship Tuesday night.

Lever (le-vər, ˈlē-) noun: a rigid piece, typically a bar, that transmits force or motion; an inducing or compelling force, typically in an upward direction; see: tool.

Leva (le-vah) noun: proper last name of senior midfielder in Chaminade soccer 2012 season see: 2012 playoff game vs. Kellenberg.

John Leva had a good felling this past Saturday morning.

“Before the match he says ‘coach, I’m gonna score today, I’m gonna score today’,” Flyers coach Mike Gallagher said. “He was with the boys and he goes ‘I feel really good, I feel confident in the match’ and I said ‘oh, how confident do you feel?’ and he goes ‘I’m gonna score a goal, I’m gonna score a goal.”

Not so much a guarantee, such words are a dangerous thing – win, and you’re probably leading a parade; lose and you’re to be sure as railroaded out of town.

“I’ve been waiting all year for an opportunity to break through and to fight for these guys and finally it came through and I’m glad to do it,” Leva would later say after a 2-1 victory in the semi-finals against Kellenberg at Mitchel Field. “I’ve been saying that all season and I’m glad it finally came true, it came up big. I didn’t want it to be my last game at Chaminade.”

He would have to wait nearly an hour past the scheduled start time to prove his boast as two rounds of penalty kicks decided the winner between St. Anthony’s and St. John’s (the Friars came out on top, natch).

With almost two weeks off and barely any practice time together, the Flyers lacked their trademarked streak of goals, rattling off several in a row before easing back on the throttle.

“They definitely hurt you,” Gallager said of the time off.

The team had spent Friday shoveling snow off of Ott Field, splitting the pitch with the junior varsity squad for their first real practice since Sandy hit.

 “We haven’t been together for two weeks and national tragedies, regional tragedies, whatever the situation is, that’s where everything goes. As a group, as a family, they were eager to see each other.”

The last times that the Flyers and Firebirds had met, it had been the same result, with Chaminade coming out on top, but in close cut fashion each time, typically by one goal.

A dangerous combination the Firebirds seemed sure to take advantage of, keeping the defense tight and letting the Flyers wear themselves out.

“This game came down to which team was gonna make the fewer mistakes. We made two mistakes, cost us two goals and that cost us the game,” Kellenberg head coach Bill Masiulis said. “The whole second half was a very much a very even game all the way through.”

In the 28th minute of the first half, junior forward Carney Mahon would make a back pass from the air that just happened to drop in front of Leva from the left back – magically it seemed, dropping out of the sky – as his left foot connected, shooting it into the left hand corner of the southern net.

“A nice little chip over his shoulder and I just put that away,” Leva said of Mahon.

That’s usually been enough for senior goalie Brian Westerman, who has been nabbing shots all season long in big games. Just something Kellenberg senior forward Joseph Ferriso didn’t have in mind when he flicked into the right side of the Chaminade net as Westerman leapt up semi-straight and arched to his left.

“I just saw that he was going to play the front post so I just ran in there and saw it and so I just put my head out there and it hit me and went in,” Ferriso said.

No matter the sport, playoffs will always magnify things. And it isn’t always who you think you know will be the one to rise up and make the big play. If you were to put money on it, you’d probably find a better rate of return if you made an investment at one of the tables in Vegas.

Odds are that someone else would have to play hero for the Flyers. Someone else would have to bank in a shot past Kellenberg keeper Colin Homola tonight. Leva had already done his part for the night. He couldn’t be expected to do it again.

In the 44th minute of the first half, Chaminade junior forward Carney Mahon got a through ball to Leva, putting it through for the finish.

“There’s a minute left and I said we’ve got to get one before half, we’ve got to break this through and the ball just dropped right in front of me and I saw the goalie and another defender come in and I just chipped it right over the goalie,” Leva said.

Now it was just a question of letting the Firebirds wear themselves out and Westerman keeping Kellenberg out of the net.

Forty-five minutes later, Chaminade held their own celebration, knowing they would meet St. Anthony’s again in the NSCHSAA title game Tuesday night for the ninth time in the last 10 years.

Gee, what are the odds of that?

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