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Panthers hold on to beat Salesian

By Jared Green Daily Planet Staff
Saturday January 19, 2002

Andrew Nackerud scored the Panthers’ first two goals, and St. Mary’s held off a late Salesian push to stay undefeated in BSAL play with a 3-1 win on Friday in Berkeley. 

St. Mary’s dressed just 13 players for the game and were missing five starters, but played their best game as a team against the Chieftans according to their head coach. 

“Our numbers are dwindling, but when we play like a team it doesn’t matter,” Teale Matteson said. “It was beautiful to watch us play so well with people missing and players in unfamiliar positions.” 

Nackerud scored the only goal of the first half in the 15th minute, taking a long free kick from Zack Huddleston and popping the ball into the net with his knee just before a violent collision with Salesian goalkeeper Alex Gomez. Gomez got the worst of the incident, being helped from the field and leaving the game for good. 

Gomez’s replacement, Alan Serrano, did well for the rest of the half with four saves, including a Chris Nicoletti breakaway that Serrano tipped off his goalpost. 

Nackerud nearly had his second goal just after halftime, getting a breakaway from a clearance by sweeper Brendan Slevin, but he shot over the crossbar. Huddleston nearly had a goal of his own off a corner kick, as Pat McMahon headed the ball over Serrano right to Huddleston, but he put the ball just over the bar. 

St. Mary’s (8-9-1, 4-0-1 BSAL) had what looked like a goal minutes later when Slevin launched a throw-in into the Salesian box, and the ball ended up in the net. But the referee ruled that no player touched the ball before it crossed the goal line and negated the goal. 

Nackerud gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead in the 67th minute, taking a throw-in from Huddleston and chipping Serrano to the back post.  

“Andrew has become our cherry-picker,” Matteson said. “He’s always in the right place at the right time.” 

But the Chieftans (4-6, 2-4) came right back with a garbage goal from speedy midfielder Anthony Butler, who had been stuffed by St. Mary’s goalkeeper Danny Penza on a breakaway seconds earlier. 

Penza filled in nicely for absent starter Nick Osborne, who missed the game with the flu. Penza made 7 saves against Salesian. 

Salesian had a great chance to even the game soon after, as Kyle Batheal used his huge throw-in to put the ball into the St. Mary’s box. Players from both sides hacked at the ball for what seemed like an eternity before the Panthers were able to clear it out. 

“(Salesian) got an adrenaline rush, but our defense rose to the occasion,” Matteson said. “I knew our defense would be smart enough not to do anything foolish that close to the goal.” 

St. Mary’s put the game away just before injury time with a goal from winger Luis Lopez. Midfielder Ben Feldman took a quick free kick to get Lopez behind the Salesian defense, and Lopez dribbled around Serrano before sliding the ball home from a tough angle.