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PNAC Cruises to Victory Over PGU | Joseph Previtali | April 27, 2007

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In a must-win game this past Saturday, April 21st, against the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical North American College cruised to a 4-2 victory, clinching a berth in the tournament round of the Clericus Cup, moving themselves into second place in Group A, and setting themselves up for a first place-second place showdown on Saturday.

The NAC, which dedicated the game to the memory of the victims of the crime at Virginia Tech, began the game well on Saturday, as Fr. Jeremy Leatherby nearly scored on the first possession of the game. Daniel O'Mullane sent a ball left to right to Leatherby, who fired the ball back across the field and off the left goalpost, barely missing what looked to be a sure goal. Despite the missed opportunity, the strike set the offensive tone for the rest of the game.

But before the American side would strike again, the Gregorian team managed to penetrate the tough NAC defense. One of the Gregorian midfielders sent a long pass ahead to a forward, who was able to beat Deacon Aaron Killips to the ball and to send it passed a diving Deacon Andy Roza for a 1-0 Gregorian lead early in the first half. However, the attack proved to be a flash in the pan, as the NAC defense would keep the Gregorian attack at bay until after the contest was long decided.

Just minutes later, the NAC responded with their first goal. Defender Steve Titus was able to control the ball along the wing and he sent a perfect pass down the sideline, past two Gregorian defenders, to a wide-open Leatherby. Leatherby, with equally impressive precision, sent a cross ahead to O'Mullane, who was left one-on-one with the Gregorian goalie. At the last second, O'Mullane, who was playing with bruised ribs, snuck the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net. The NAC had evened the score at 1-1.

The game went on for the rest of the first half, with the pressure slightly in the NAC's favor. Play was very physical, and two yellow cards were issued. The Gregorian defense was sloppy with the ball, and it finally cost them late in the first half. Jaime Gil sent a pass from left to right to Jimmy Morrison, who one-timed a shot over the Gregorian goalkeeper's head and into the back of the net. It was a fantastic exchange, highlighting both Gil's passing ability and Morrison's shooting accuracy, and the NAC led 2-1. Halftime soon followed.

The American side came out of their halftime respite with fire in their eyes. They immediately began to apply offensive pressure, putting some good shots near the goal. Finally, they broke loose as O'Mullane finished on a pass from Fernando Saenz, and the NAC lead was 3-1 early in the second half. They continued to create pressure, sensing that the game was theirs for the taking. The must-win nature of the contest translated into a real sense of urgency on the field. Sure enough, just minutes later, Morrison scored again and the American side led 4-1.

The Gregorian scored a second goal late in the half, but it was too little too late. The final whistle blew with the NAC winning by the score of 4-2. They had clinched a berth in the tournament round, and their faithful fans roared in appreciation. The players greeted their supporters, reciprocating the applause. It had been a well-fought and well-executed victory.

The NAC now faces first-place Mater Ecclesiae on Saturday, April 28th, at 9:30 AM. With a victory, they will clinch a two-seed in the eight-team tournament. The top four teams from each group advance to the tournament round, which consists of two-game series in bracket format. The aggregate (total score between the two games) winner of each matchup advances, and the Clericus Cup champion is crowned in mid-June.

Pontifical North American College | 2007 Clericus Cup Schedule (Preliminary Round)

March 3, 9:30AM vs. Pontificio Collegio Urbano (Field A). 0-0 (4-3).
March 10, 9:30AM vs. Pontificio Seminario Gallico (French College) (Field B). 4-0.
March 17, 9:30AM vs. Croati (Field B) 4-5.
March 24, 9:30AM vs. Tiberino (Field A) 3-1.
April 14, 11:15AM vs. O.M.I. Team (Field B) 2-3.
April 21, 9:30AM vs. P.U. Gregoriana (Gregorian University) (Field A) 4-2.
April 28, 9:30AM vs. C.I. Mater Ecclesiae (Legionaries of Christ) (Field B)

Related IgnatiusInsight.com Articles:

PNAC Upset by O.M.I. in Clericus Cup | Joseph Previtali | April 19, 2007
PNAC defeats Tiberino, 3-1 | Joseph Previtali | March 30, 2007
PNAC Loses to Croatian Team in Shootout | Joseph Previtali | March 21, 2007
NAC defeats PGC, 4-0 | Joseph Previtali | March 10, 2007
Shootout In Rome: NAC wins its first 2007 Clericus Cup match | Joseph Previtali | March 6, 2007
North American College soccer team wins| Joseph Previtali
Seminarians and Soccer! Meet the Pontifical North American College Clericus Cup Team | Joseph Previtali

Joseph Filice Previtali is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He is in his third year of theological studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he currently resides. In June, he will receivethe Baccalaureate of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). Previously, he was sports editor and columnist for The Gonzaga Witness, a Catholic student newspaper, which he co-founded with his friends at Gonzaga University. He will be reporting on the Clericus Cup for IgnatiusInsight.com and the Insight Scoop blog throughout the course of the tournament.

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