Norwood eighth-grader J.J. Zamichelli (right) looks to move the ball past a Devon Prep defender. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Last Wednesday on its home field at the Water Tower Recreation Center, Norwood Fontbonne Academy’s soccer team clinched the regular-season title in the Catholic Academies League.

The outcome was a 0-0 tie against visiting league member Devon Prep, but that was enough to secure first place for the host Bears heading into the league playoffs.

In the double round of league matches, Norwood (8-1-1) had won an earlier encounter with Devon, had split in two bouts with Waldron Mercy and had won all of its other games. Number two Waldron had lost a game to Devon, as well as to Norwood.

Norwood, like most of the league schools, fields a co-ed varsity soccer team. Eighth-grader Isabella Devine and seventh-grader Maia Macharnick are two of the girls who figure prominently in the Bears’ line-up.

The other eighth-graders on the roster are goalie Quinn Egan, Matthew Cohen, Justin Eney, Joseph Jackson, Rory Kyle, Emily Reithmiller, Owen Valinis and J.J. Zamichelli.

There actually are more seventh graders on the young NFA squad. Macharnick is joined by Raymond Red Boles, Zachary Colloluri, Colin Cummings, Kevin Doerzbacher, Alex Farina, Michael Malloy, Caleb Millan, Sam Otis, Luke Reithmiller, Mali-Vinn Renz and Ava Rossi.

Eighth-grader Isabella Devine works to get the ball out of Norwood’s defensive third as seventh-grader Caleb Millan (left) moves up the field. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

Last Wednesday at the Water Tower Norwood attacked in the opening stages of the game, but after a while Devon Prep reversed the flow, sending a shot a little over the Bears’ crossbar at one point. Norwood got off a hard shot later on, but it was outside the frame and the first 30-minute half ended with the count still 0-0.

Three minutes into the second period the Bears’ Zamichelli aimed a shot just a little wide to the right of the visitors’ goal. Five minutes in, Devon sent a high free kick toward the Bears’ den, and NFA keeper Egan caught it in front of the middle of the goal.

Around the middle of the period, the visiting goalie saved a shot fired by Norwood, and a little later Devon was able to clear the ball out of danger following a corner kick by the home team. Down near the 10-minute mark Devon managed to keep the ball out as it rolled loose right at the goal line. Norwood then survived a close call at the other end.

The best scoring chance of the day was enjoyed by the visitors when they were awarded a penalty kick with about eight minutes remaining. Egan was ready in the cage, but he didn’t need to make a save as the shot by Devon missed the entire goal on the left side.

Devon’s keeper made a good stop on a Norwood direct kick in the final minutes, and the game ended with a 0-0 tie. There was no overtime, and on the basis of their record, the Bears secured the top seed for the Catholic Academies tournament.