LAVALLA Catholic College stunned Rowville Sports Academy in the year eight Victorian School Sport soccer final in Melbourne earlier this month to become state champions for the first time in more than a decade.
Lavalla was outclassed for a majority of the match but clung on for a nil-all draw after normal and extra time, before claiming victory 4-2 in a penalty shootout.
Coach Michael McKenna said the triumph over their heavily fancied opponent was a tribute to his side’s resolve.
“The side we played in the final were a much better side than us but we had the fight and willpower to stick it out and get the result,” McKenna said.
“It was a strong team effort from all the boys involved and there was great leadership and determination shown.”
Dougal Williams, Liam McCluskey and Stefan Sbagli had a strong game in defence against a skilled Rowville attacking unit and held tough until the bitter end.
Goalkeeper Lachy Galea also starred for Lavalla and proved the difference in the shootout when he repelled Rowville’s first effort.
Beginning in term two of the school year, Lavalla progressed through the zone and regional phases of the Victorian tournament with flying colours.
Its dominance in August’s Gippsland regional competition, where it claimed a clean sweep over Mirboo North, Lowanna and Nagle, gave the school the ideal springboard into the state finals.
There it topped its pool of four to reach the grand final courtesy of victories over Braybrook and Ballarat, and a draw with Bendigo.
“They gelled together really well,” McKenna said.
Lavalla’s girl’s side almost secured the double for the school but went down 2-0 in their state final.
State champion side
Lachie Galea, Carlo Herrera, Jake Dickason, Jared Baldachino, Liam McCluskey, Stefan Sbagli, Matt Bailey, Riley McCrae, Tylah Sammut, Dougal Williams, Bailey Row, Jackson Catlin, Sam Delicato, Tony Nicholson, Jake Tanti.