Montalbano’s goal lifts Comets over Wildcats

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2009



RESERVE — After weeks of near misses – both at the goal and in the win column – St. Charles finally broke through on Friday night.

Andrew Montalbano’s second half goal was the lone score of the Comets’ clash with East St. John and propelled the Comets to their first win of the season, 1-0.

“Look at these guys,” said St. Charles coach Bill Ballard with a smile. “They’re happy as can be.”

Montalbano’s goal came with 10 minutes left in regulation, on a short kick assisted by Paul Cupit on a cross pass that just got past the outstretched hands of ESJ goalkeeper Ricky Williams.

“Paul came down the sideline and chipped it over to me. I just tapped it in,” said Montalbano. “(The win) feels amazing.”

Said Ballard: “It was just excellent movement of the ball. We worked it in, just like it’s supposed to be done.”

For much of the night, it seemed like a script too familiar to St. Charles (1-6-1), which had lost its share of low-scoring games already this season. While the Comets controlled the ball for stretches, SCC – nor ESJ (3-7-2) – could convert a goal for almost 50 minutes.

“We’ve been working toward this for the last month,” said Ballard. “We’ve played some good teams tough, and we played a very good team tonight. We finally pulled one out.”

East St. John coach Paul Dupuy said he wasn’t surprised at the tough defensive play of St. Charles, which he deemed as a “very strong defensive team.”

But he said while he knew the going would be tough this season with a young team, he would call for his veteran players to step up.

“The young guys are learning the game of soccer, and they’re about where I’d expect them to be,” said Dupuy. “But I need my stars to step up and play smart, team soccer.”

Just before Montalbano’s goal, ESJ had a pair of golden opportunities just come up short. Joseph Perrilloux – returning from an early season injury – nearly scored first on a short kick, then on a header.

The header was the real heartbreaker – it hit the center of the crossbar on top the goal and bounced back.

Just before those two plays, a shot by DeChris Strong was deflected by diving SCC goalkeeper Gerard Giangrosso.

It was that type of night for both teams, though.

Williams made a number of strong saves for the Wildcats throughout both halves, making a scoreless tie seem imminent.

But thanks to Montalbano’s goal, no such thing occurred.

“We stood right over that drain,” said Ballard. “Before the game, we said we were flushing everything so far about this season and starting fresh.”