Marymount defends title by downing Roman rival
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The Marymount Royals officially reinstated their DODEA-Europe Division II boys soccer dynasty Saturday at Kaiserslautern High School, beating crosstown rival American Overseas School of Rome 3-2 in the first overtime period for their second straight championship and sixth in the last seven years.
“This year was challenging because we lost half of the winning team from last year,” Royals senior captain Luca Levantini said. “But we’re building up a great team for the upcoming years.”
Alex Herne sent a perfectly placed through-ball into the box and teammate Mario Freilino beat the opposing keeper to the spot to knock in the decisive goal in the first overtime period. The goal finally settled a match between the Roman rivals that was a thrilling back-and-forth affair featuring sophisticated attacks and proficient defense from both sides.
Second-seeded Marymount got on the board first. Forward Arturo Forcella took the ball on a sprint down the left flank and unleashed a distant shot from the wing. The attempt looked more speculative than truly dangerous, but it bounced off the AOSR goalkeeper and squirmed over the yellow line to give the Royals a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the first half.
Fifth seed AOSR responded with a flurry of attacks. First a Falcon offering glanced off the crossbar to throw a scare into the Royals, then their fears were realized when AOSR found the net moments later. Senior captain Leon Musonda van Otterdijk emerged from the chaotic wake of a corner kick to deposit the equalizing goal into a largely unmanned Marymount net.
The teams went into halftime deadlocked at a goal apiece.
That changed five minutes after halftime, as Forcella weaved through the heart of the AOSR defense and unleashed a screaming shot from some 20 yards out that found the bottom right portion of the net.
AOSR again had the answer. Luca Baldestein floated a high-arching shot over the charging Royal goalkeeper, tying the score with under 30 minutes to play in regulation. Seemingly inspired by the majestic goal, a resurgent AOSR squad dialed up its intensity and earned a chance to go ahead on a penalty kick caused by a Marymount handball. But Royals keeper Renato Andreozzi made a spectacular diving save on the shot, and an immediate try off the rebound sailed high to keep the score even.
AOSR coach Valerio Aureli said his team gave “200 percent” and “believed until the end,” attributing the one-goal, extra-time loss to the fickle nature of the sport.
“They gave it all,” Aureli said of his team. “This is football. The ball is round. You never know what happens.”
Marymount is now in the midst of another multiple-year title reign after Bahrain ended its four-year run with a shootout victory in the 2015 final. The Royals’ previous streak included a 3-2 defeat of AOSR in the 2013 European championship match.
Marymount’s win in the all-Italy title match was final proof of Italy’s outright dominance of the Division II bracket. All four of the Italy-based teams in the nine-team Division II bracket reached the elimination round; Marymount beat Aviano and AOSR defeated Florence in Friday semifinals.