By Larry Moko
The Battle of the Bishops senior girls’ high school soccer game ended in a tie, but it felt like a win to the Bishop Tonnos Titans.
After falling behind 2-0 late in the first half, Tonnos rallied to earn a 2-2 tie against the visiting Bishop Ryan Celtics in Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association regular-season action Monday.
With the result, Tonnos remained undefeated (4-0-2) and in second place behind the league-leading Cardinal Newman Cardinals. Bishop Ryan, at 2-1-2, is tied with the St. Thomas More Knights for third spot.
“Our girls dug deep to come back from a 2-nil deficit,” Titans coach Christina Barbati said. “I’m very pleased we have that capacity to put it in second gear. It showed heart and determination.”
After Bishop Ryan struck for early goals by Claudia Cuicani and Ellaraye Tobias, Bishop Tonnos replied with markers by Serena Riverso and Alexa Fama.
“It was an unbelievable shot from Alexa,” Barbati said of the goal that capped the scoring in the dying minutes. “She just found the right angle and blasted it. She had one chance and made it happen.”
The Titans had a few other excellent scoring opportunities after that but Celtics Grade 11 goalkeeper Karolina Kolodziej stood strong to make the saves.
“In the first half, we dominated,” Celtics coach Josie Petitti said. “We had good ball control and good flow. We knew where we needed to be. But as the game progressed, we kind of became unhinged. We definitely got outplayed in the second half.
“Good on BT to come back. They’ve got a great team. It’s not a loss.”
The Celtics won the league championship in 2015 over the St. Mary Crusaders and advanced to the finals the last two years only to lose to Cardinal Newman.
“They had good momentum and kept pressing forward,” Petitti said of Fama’s goal. “We were frazzled. We were losing our shape. I think we were a little out of position. It was a nice goal to the corner. That’s where you always want your players to shoot, right?”
The Celtics opened the scoring when central defender Cuicani – headed to Fordham University on a soccer scholarship next fall – intercepted a pass and lofted a shot from 40 yards that sailed high into the net over the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Morgan Luis.
“Claudia is something very special to our program,” the Celtics coach said. “She has such a calm and composed way of playing. She really is a critical component to our team.
“I’ve said to her many times, ‘Claudia you need to shoot from wherever you are.’ You can put her in any position and she will adapt well and be successful.”
Tobias made it 2-0, starting the scoring play with a corner kick. “After it hit a couple of defenders it got spat out to me and I put it in,” Tobias said.
Riverso got Tonnos on the board before the end of the first half.
“I think our team is physically fit,” Barbati said. “I’m happy we were able to keep up and turn it on in the second half.”
In the only other HWCAA senior girls’ soccer game played Monday, the Cathedral Gaels picked up their first victory of the season with a 4-1 decision over the winless ACMT Jaguars.