AURORA – St. Charles East is undefeated no longer.
Dakota Rowsey scored on a pair of breakaways and Chris Freeman converted a penalty kick as host Metea Valley shocked the Saints boys soccer team, 3-1, in the Upstate Eight Conference championship match Wednesday night.
The loss ended East’s 33-match unbeaten streak in regular season matches and gave Metea Valley (9-7-3) its first UEC title. The Mustangs pulled off the upset despite being out-shot, 16-4.
“I come out of here shaking my head,” East coach Paul Jennison said. “I don’t know how we walk out of here losing, 3-1.”
Both teams were equally shocked. Rowsey, who had the first two-goal match of his career, opened the scoring when he scored on a breakaway off a Jimmy Kisiel assist at the 15:47 mark of the first half. A Saints defender got a foot on the pass but the deflection went straight to Rowsey pinching in from the left wing.
“Jimmy took the ball through the middle and he played a good ball,” Rowsey said. “They got a foot on it but I wanted to make my run across so I could stay onside. I just didn’t want to make a straight run, and then we got a lucky deflection and put it right away.”
The Saints (17-1-4) appeared to right themselves when Tyler Robbins headed home the equalizer with 9:28 left in the first half. Jared Brown got the assist as he headed the ball out of a scrum to Robbins on the right post.
But Metea didn’t cave and scored on its only two shots of the second half. Freeman was fouled in the box and buried the resulting penalty kick for what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 27:32 to go. The senior then fed Rowsey on a counter-attack for a big insurance goal with 11:41 remaining.
No matter how hard they tried, the Saints could not solve the Metea defense and goalie Tim Howard, who made eight saves. It was a far cry from the first meeting between the two sides, which East won 7-0 on Sept. 7 in St. Charles.
“They were a good team,” Rowsey said. “I can’t say enough about our defenders. They stepped up so much, especially the seniors, and played so well. [The Saints] probably had 80 percent of the possession for that spell of time but we stepped up, we won our individual battles, we kept them in front of us, we stayed behind the ball and that’s all we ask. Then we countered on them, and it worked.”
Jennison had nothing but praise for Metea.
“We walk in here tonight on senior night and obviously these guys are extremely upset about what happened last time we played them, and I think the bottom line is we just got outworked tonight,” Jennison said.
Despite his team’s inability to follow up on its UEC River title, Jennison remains confident heading into next week’s playoffs.
“It’s going to bring one or two or three of them back to reality,” Jennison said. “We definitely aren’t unbeatable and as I told them, you best believe this result has already gone out around the state and now people are saying, ‘Wow, maybe they’re not as good as they thought they were.’ That’s why I think it might be the best thing that’s happened to us this year.”