The Boy's High School National Semifinals wrapped up today, with Xavier beating Charlotte Catholic in a penalty shootout and Sacramento Jesuit handing Gonzaga a 45-7 loss.
It's not usual to see any match end in a shootout, much less a semifinal, but with the score tied at 22 at the end of regulation, the referees consulted the rules and it was determined that overtime goes directly to penalty kicks. To start off the match, Xavier standout Eddie Sullivan again dictated proceedings, making the first penalty kick and scoring an unconverted try. Despite this, Charlotte Catholic still held the lead, 15-8, at halftime.
In the second half, Xavier's Chris Mattina scored a try, which Sullivan converted to tie the game at 15 all. But Charlotte Catholic scored again to retake the lead, setting up a thrilling end to the game. On the last play, Sullivan sprinted 20 meters to score in the center of the try zone. He then converted his own try before the final whistle to tie it at 22-22.
In overtime, each team was allowed five attempts at goal. Xavier's Sullivan, Jimmy Wolfer, Mattina and lock James Kontrat all split the posts, while only one Charlotte player found the mark, wrapping up a thrilling match.
"It was very tense," Xavier's Jim O'hara said.
In the other semifinal, Sacramento Jesuit made amends for their loss in the semifinals last year and defeated Gonzaga, 45-7.
The first 10 minutes of the match were scoreless before Jesuit scored. Soon after, a Gonzaga player was yellow carded and Jesuit took advantage of the sin-binning by scoring another try. In the last play of the half, a Jesuit player intercepted a Gonzaga pass and took it all the way to the try zone. Jesuit continued scoring in the second half, while Gonzaga only managed to score one converted try.
"Jesuit was clearly the better team so all hats off to them," Gonzaga coach Peter Bagetta said. "Whatever mistakes we made they punished us for it. When you're playing a class team like Jesuit, they will take advantage of your mistakes. It doesn't take away from the season our guys have had. They worked really hard and we will be ready to play again tomorrow."
When the final takes place tomorrow, Xavier will have the chance to repeat as national champions. But it will be tough considering Jesuit won the national title in both 2009 and 2008. Jesuit has looked like the more dominant team in the tournament so far, but as Xavier showed in the semifinals, they can find a way to win games right at the very end. The two teams face off tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. (MST).