EAGLEVILLE – When Bishop Shanahan’s Harrison Coron swooped in toward the goal, teammate Connor Bailey knew exactly what to do. He sent a perfectly lofted pass toward the near post and Coron headed into the net to give the Eagles their first-ever District 1 championship.
“As soon as (Bailey) took a touch, he just knew I was going in,” Coron explained. “It was just a blur from there. I don’t even remember the ball hitting my head.”
Nevertheless, it gave second-seeded Bishop Shanahan a wild and crazy 3-2 overtime victory over upset-minded Harriton on Thursday in the Class 3A title game at Methacton High School. And get this: the Eagles were trailing by a goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation before rallying for the equalizer, which allowed Shanahan the opportunity to win it in OT.
“I was not worried. I believed in my boys 100 percent,” said Eagles’ head coach Jim Kalavik.
He may have been the only one wearing white and green, however.
“Oh yeah I was worried. My heart was beating out of my chest,” admitted Jake Franks.
“I was getting pretty worried and a little frustrated, but I knew we were going to get at least some chances,” added, Coron, a fellow senior.
Trailing 2-1 and time running out, Shanahan took advantage of a big break when Frank was pushed on a throw-in while in the box with 50.8 seconds on the clock. He was awarded a penalty kick, and with more than a little pressure heaped onto his back, he calmly converted on a waist-high laser just inside the far post.
“That kid just has ice in his veins,” Coron said.
“I knew I would regret it if I missed. But we’ve been practicing PKs for weeks now,” Franks added.
“I said, ‘Harrison (Coron) should take the PK, but if Jake steps up on it, let him go,’” Kalavik pointed out. “There is a reason why Jake has over 50 goals in his career. He’s a stone-cold killer.”
Now 18-3 overall, the Eagles head into the PIAA playoffs on Nov. 7th riding a nine-game winning streak. Fifth-seeded Harriton (13-7 overall) came within a minute of notching its third straight upset over a higher seeded opponent. In the quarters it was an OT win over No. 4 Radnor. Then came a 3-2 win over top-seeded Holy Ghost Prep in the semifinals.
“I am extremely proud of the boys,” said Rams’ head coach Biff Sturla. “They fought hard. That’s all you can ask for as a coach is for your players to give you their all, and they gave us more.”
In the first overtime, Harriton came within inches of ending it when Ethan Rodgers fired a shot that hit the cross bar of the football goal post just above the soccer cross bar. It was disallowed.
About four minutes later, Coron seemed to find an extra gear when the Rams’ defense was seemingly stuck in neutral, and he ended it with 4:47 left in the overtime.
“Harrison has six extra gears and he is a phenomenal talent and person,” Kalavik said. “He likes to put the team on his back in the closing moments.
“He may be 5-foot-5, but he will jump over 6-footers to score a header.”
The first half was scoreless, but Shanahan’s Richard Zink opened the scoring in the first 10 minutes of the second half. The Rams’ Alexander Kades knotted it at 1-1 not long after when he corralled a loose ball and scored at point-blank range.
A junior, Kades then culminated a frenzied two-minute span of domination by notching another to tie it up on a penalty kick. The speedy Kades had no less than three straight high-quality scoring chances in a row, and on the third he was tackled by Eagles’ defender Matthew Eaglehouse. His PK shot to the lower nearside corner put Harriton in front 2-1 with 6:44 left in regulation.
That set the stage for Shanahan’s late penalty kick.
“I can’t believe we got the PK. We got a little lucky,” Franks said.
“I didn’t see the foul, but obviously the referee had a better view of it,” Sturla added. “It takes a lot of guts to make that call at that point. He saw something that I didn’t.”
Late in regulation, the Rams’ top scorer – Kades – and Shanahan’s top defender – Mike Gingrich – knocked heads. Gingrich did not return and Kades played sparingly in the OT before leaving for good.
“Unfortunately our best player ended up with a concussion and that hurt a lot,” Sturla reported.
It was a particularly painful setback for Harriton as they dropped a District 1 match with Bishop Shanahan in 2016, and that one was also decided in overtime.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Sturla said.
Although the Eagles made history on Thursday evening, they are not satisfied.
“There is still something missing and that’s to do some damage in states,” Coron said.
“The theme of the whole season is to keep making history,” Kalavik added. “Let’s make Shanahan proud and doing things that haven’t been done before.
“Our fitness, our athleticism, our heart and determination, it all showed tonight, and we needed every ounce of it.”
Bishop Shanahan 3, Harriton 2 (OT)
Harriton 0 2 0 – 2
B. Shanahan 0 2 1– 3
Harriton goals: Kades 2.
B. Shanahan goals: Zink, J. Franks, H. Coron.
Goalie saves: Rosenberg (H) 5; A. Coron (BS) 3.