The intermittent rain that plagued most of the Cape Tech boys varsity soccer team’s Nov. 5 MIAA Div. 4 South tournament game stopped long enough for Paulo Loureiro to size up his free kick, the one he’d told his coach he wanted when Ivan Popov put him in during the final minutes of the second overtime. This was his team’s make-it-or-break-it moment and he didn’t want to let them down.
As the official whistled, giving the go-ahead, Loureiro took aim and fired, his teammates watching as the ball sailed high, grazed the outstretch fingers of Sacred Heart goalkeeper…and then slid into the far-left corner of the net.
After two overtimes that followed a rain-soaked 80 minutes of regulation play, the Cape Tech Crusaders had done something they hadn’t done in too many seasons to recall: won a first-round game and advanced to the quarterfinals.
It was Loureiro’s free kick that paved the way.
“I saw that last kick and I saw an opportunity for me,” said the senior captain after the game. “I took the opportunity and hoped for the best.”
Loureiro said that when it went in, he was ecstatic.
“I lost my mind,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that it went in. It was an amazing feeling because I knew that was for the team.”
The Crusaders spent a fair amount of the first half trying to figure out their opponents while battling raw, wet weather, but it was during the second half that they came to life, especially after Israel Campos put them on the scoreboard with the first goal of the game at 6:03 in the frame.
It took Sacred Heart until the 29th minute of game play to tie the game at 1-1, but less than two minutes later the home team Crusaders struck again, this time when Lucas Gurski fired in a shot that scudded past the Saints defense and into the net.
Unfortunately for Cape Tech, the Saints would go on to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation play, setting up what became a double overtime situation in which neither team scored in the first of two 10-minute halves. With the light fading fast, the pressure was on to finish the game.
Enter Loureiro, who earned his free kick near the seven-minute mark of the second OT half, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Popov was elated.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I’m so proud of this team. They’ve achieved so much this year. They keep pushing themselves to the limit. For the last 15 years we’ve never had a home game in the playoffs, so getting to the quarterfinals is awesome.”
Popov said he was especially pleased with his team’s discipline.
“They were very disciplined on the field,” he said. “This was our goal, to stay disciplined and in shape, and attack when we had the chance. Even when we conceded two goals we still played very well. I believe we deserved to win this game.”
The Crusaders will host No. 17 seed Nantucket this afternoon at 2 p.m. in the Div. 4 South quarterfinals.