ROME — Seminarians from the Pontifical North American College scored a 1-0 win against three-time tourney champions Redemptoris Mater in the first round play of the Clericus Cup March 3.
A powerful sideline throw-in near the net by Justin Blanc of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., deflected off the opposing goalie’s fingertips and landed in the net.
“We had planned to try and attack the goal on the throw-in” in the hopes of heading the ball into the net, “but it just so happened that there was enough confusion in there that (the ball) found its way in,” Blanc told Catholic News Service.
The “Red Mat” team’s strong defense meant it was “a pretty tight and hard-fought game with not too many opportunities to score on either side,” he said.
Blanc, a second-year seminarian, said the team has “a strong class of new men” this year as well as seasoned veterans so “we’re very happy with the way the team’s coming together.”
The victory against the Neocatechumenal Way’s Redemptoris Mater seminary was especially momentous for the NAC.
Between 2007 and 2010, the NAC Martyrs’ push for the championship title was stymied by losses to the “Red Mat” squad. The Martyrs came in second place behind Red Mat in 2009 and 2010.
“The rivalry predates many of our time, but we were aware of the stakes,” Blanc said. The enthusiasm shown by the team and the fans helped “make it a fun and exciting atmosphere,” he added.
Msgr. James F. Checchio, a priest of the Diocese of Camden, is rector of the North American College.