FORT WAYNE – In the realm of soccer, this is the equivalent of Arthur removing Excalibur from the stone. Stopping 3 of 3 shots in penalty kicks – making actual saves, not diving as the ball sails wide of the goal – is a feat so unconscionable, for it to happen is almost mythical.
But it happened Wednesday night at Canterbury, where senior goalkeeper Robert DelBello stopped all the shots he faced – against one of the best teams in the state – to clinch a 2-1 victory for the Cavaliers over fifth-ranked and previously unbeaten Carroll.
I dont even know what to say. Its unbelievable, said DelBello, who foiled blasts from Michael Didion, Tyler Sidwell and Kyle Hoagland, as the fans at Hancock Field repeatedly chanted Robby, Robby.
I just guessed right and it happened to work – three times.
Canterbury will face Northrop in the sectional finals Saturday; the Bruins defeated Bishop Dwenger 3-2 in penalty kicks.
Canterbury (10-7-1) won state championships the last two years, but it did so in Class A. Now that the Cavaliers have moved up, the road has been tougher, and it looked as if the season would end for the 20th-ranked Cavaliers on Wednesday because they were thoroughly dominated by the Chargers (14-1-3) in the first half.
A barrage of shots was unleashed upon DelBello, who was beaten only in the eighth minute. Carrolls Bayden Lee had broken into the penalty area and fired a shot, which was deflected away by Brandon Renninger.
Seconds later, though, the ball was sent back into the area by Carrolls Caleb Relue and tucked inside the right goalpost by Zachary Tom.
In the second half, the Cavaliers were a different, more aggressive team and they tied it in the 58th minute, when Britt Watts dribbled a third of the field, evading the defense before sending a low shot past goalkeeper Patrick TKindt.
Its an amazing feeling. We took down a team that was undefeated. It feels great, said Watts, who was as awestruck as anyone by the performance of DelBello in penalty kicks.
I didnt know that keeper. I didnt know he had it in him.
Of course, the Cavaliers required some offense in the penalty kicks and got it. In order, Renninger, Watts and Herman DeJong scored.
None of us (coaches) have seen a keeper save all three. Weve just never seen it, Cavaliers coach Greg Mauch said. We werent even sure he wanted to take on the PKs. Hes been a little unsure of himself. I finally had to ask him, Are you going to take them or not? He said yeah, and I guess he made the right choice. Ive never seen a keeper save all three. Ive seen three not score – blow shots over the top or something – but to make three stops is unbelievable.
DelBello, who was tackled by a throng of teammates and fans, didnt seem to know how to treat such a glorious situation. But like Arthur, who was deemed a true king because he could draw the sword from stone, DelBello certainly felt atop the world.
We did not want to lose, he said. We picked ourselves up after the first half and kept on going, kept on going. But I dont know how I did that.