Alive after sudden death

Zanetti, Maxwell save Gaels in thriller

Fifth-year midfielder Patrick Zanetti (above) scored in the 119th minute to send Sunday’s quarter-final to penalty kicks.
Fifth-year midfielder Patrick Zanetti (above) scored in the 119th minute to send Sunday’s quarter-final to penalty kicks.
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Dylan Maxwell saved three of seven penalty shots to send Queen’s to the OUA Final Four.
Dylan Maxwell saved three of seven penalty shots to send Queen’s to the OUA Final Four.
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The Gaels are heading to the OUA Final Four after squeaking by the Toronto Varsity Blues in sudden-death penalty shots on Sunday.

The roller coaster of a game ended 0-0 after regulation and saw Toronto take the lead with six minutes left in overtime. Gaels’ fifth-year forward Pat Zanetti evened the game 1-1 in the 119th minute.

“[Zanetti] was our saviour,” head coach Chris Gencarelli said. “He’s a phenomenal leader and a great veteran presence on the team.”

Zanetti’s late equalizer and goalkeeper Dylan Maxwell’s heroics in the shootout capped off a tense quarter-final that nearly remained scoreless to the end.

The game changed dramatically in the second overtime period when Toronto substitute Adrian Dannel replaced Jermaine Burrell with nine minutes left.

In the 114th minute, the ball collided with the hand of Gaels’ defender Marco D’Elia just 22 yards from Queen’s goal. Maxwell saved the initial free kick, but Dannel buried the game’s first goal in the ensuing scramble.

With six minutes left in the game, Gencarelli said Maxwell wouldn’t let anyone lose hope.

“Dylan did a great job of even getting me going, because he said, ‘Don’t worry. Keep pushing!’ and grabbed the ball right away and threw it to centre,” Gencarelli said. “We’ve been in this position a number of times throughout the year, and we’ve always found a way.”

With only two minutes left, Zanetti netted the game-tying goal in a scramble created by midfielder Adrian Rochford’s cross. “All it takes is one kick, and I was in the right spot at the right time,” Zanetti said. “You think you’re going to lose, you come back to tie, and then you go to a shootout … it’s hard to put into words.”

Although a penalty shootout can be a keeper’s nightmare, Maxwell commended Zanetti’s goal.

“[It was a] hell of a play by a fifth-year player who came back for a shot to go to nationals,” Maxwell said. “He put everything on the line, especially considering he’s hurt — his ankles, his knee, everything’s hurting.”

In the shootout, Maxwell saved two of Toronto’s initial five shots, but the Gaels weren’t able to capitalize, with midfielder Nathan Klemencic’s shot being saved and striker Chris Michael’s hitting the inside of the left post.

Maxwell came up with his third save of the shootout in the seventh round of penalties, before midfielder Henry Bloemen buried his kick into the bottom right corner to complete the comeback.

With the win, the Gaels qualified for next Saturday’s OUA semi-final. They’ll face the McMaster Marauders, the Western Conference’s second seed.

The other Final Four matchup is between the Carleton Ravens and the undefeated York Lions.

The winners will qualify for CIS nationals and play in the OUA championship game on Sunday.

“Soccer in November, one game away from nationals and a chance at an OUA championship,” Maxwell said. “It feels pretty good.”

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