FAIRBORN — All of Carroll’s hard work, all of the team’s ability to battle back in the second half of Wednesday night’s Division II state semifinal contest, and all of the team’s momentum, it all went away with a slow rolling cross pass and a tip-in from an unheralded Stallion.
Columbus DeSales junior midfielder Brady Krietemeyer drove deep into the right corner of Carroll territory, then sent a slow right-to-left rolling pass to the front of the Patriots goal.
The ball rolled across Wright State University’s Alumni Field, and rolled. Rolled, and rolled some more.
It rolled slowly past everyone, except for a former junior varsity player and hardly ever used freshman forward named Cesar Ramirez who found himself just left of the Carroll goal. Ramirez chipped in the score with 6:50 left in the Sudden Victory overtime period to send the DeSales Stallions to the state championship, winning 1-0.
The Carroll players collapsed around their goal, while DeSales’ gang was mobbed by jubilant students at midfield. After consoling his players, Carroll coach Scott Molfenter said it was a well-played match by two of the state’s best.
Either DeSales (18-2-2) or Carroll (18-5-0) had won the D-II state title in five of the past six years.
“It was two good teams,” he said. “It was going to come down to who could create that scoring chance, and we just came up on the unlucky end of it.”
The first half was largely dominated by defending champion DeSales, which spent most of the half in the Carroll side of the field. The Stallions’ Antonio Romanelli, Cincinnati Moeller transfer Jonathan Giebler and fellow midfielder Hector Gomez combined for at least five shots on goal in the half.
DeSales had six corner kick opportunities in the first half, to none for Carroll. That disparity prompted one upset Carroll fan to enter the pressbox and yell at the game’s announcer for not saying enough about the Carroll effort.
Carroll did pick up its game in the second half, and led DeSales in corner kicks (2-0), but neither squad could score. David Austria, Jace Greer and Ian Molfenter each had solid scoring tries in the half. Greer sent a right-left pass, similar to that of Krietemeyer, but his went untouched across the front of the DeSales goal with about nine minutes left to play.
With 11:05 left in regulation, DeSales’ fortunes took a serious blow when Romanelli, the team’s leading scorer with 21 goals and 13 assists this season, went down with a left ankle injury. The future Ohio Wesleyan University player did not return.
After a scoreless two halves of play, DeSales once again became the aggressor in the overtime period. They had two corner kick opportunities (to none for Carroll) in the 15-minute extra time, but neither try was fruitful.
Carroll’s Colin Flaute had a couple scoring tries in the period, his last came just minutes before the DeSales goal, when he fired from about 20 yards out.
DeSales coach Domenic Romanelli emphasized to his players that the match against Carroll would be like a state title battle. “They’re a great team, but I think we earned this one tonight,” he said.
Molfenter said he was proud of how his youthful Carroll team played.
“We’re a young team and we had to beat some really good teams in order to get here. I was very proud of the guys,” he said.
Austria, Sam Alexander, Molfenter, Spencer Kreinbrink, James Braun and Flaute are the only seniors Carroll had on the squad. The other 15 players on the Patriots’ roster will be back next season.
DeSales will play either Mentor Lake Catholic or Bay Village Bay for the state crown. With three minutes to go, Bay Village Bay was reported as leading undefeated and top-ranked Mentor Lake Catholic, 3-2.
The state championship match will take place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.