Prior to Friday night's Section V Class AA1 championship soccer match against third-seeded Fairport, the boys from Webster Schroeder had trailed only once all season.
That happened in their only loss in the second match of the season to Pittsford Mendon. So when the Warriors fell behind Fairport in just 2½ minutes Friday, it wasn't exactly a good omen. But senior midfielder Marco DeBole set up Sean Loucks' tying goal nine minutes later, a swift response, and connected for the winner with just 7:44 remaining to give the top seeds a 2-1 victory and third straight sectional title.
Schroeder (16-1-2), state runner-up last fall, plays Spencerport, a 1-0 overtime winner over Greece Athena in Class AA2, in Tuesday's state tournament qualifier.
"We knew the turf was slick. I just wanted to put it on frame and luckily it went in," DeBole said of his 19-yard shot that sophomore goalkeeper Joe Catalfamo, who had been solid with eight saves, couldn't stop. "It's just an unbelievable feeling."
The young Red Raiders (11-6-2) had lost 2-1 to Schroeder on Sept. 12 and the Monroe County rivals tied 1-1 on Oct. 4. This time Fairport threw a huge scare into the Warriors, but came up short.
"I was very proud of how hard we played. Had we gotten a bounce here or there, we may have come out on top," Fairport coach Gianni Bussani said.
"They've got a lot of great young players," added Schroeder senior goalie Andy Siviy. "They definitely pushed us. They're a quality team."
The Raiders bench didn't agree when offsides wasn't called on Loucks' tying goal, a 10-yard volley after DeBole's smart-and-short boot over the defense. "Sean is very scrappy in front of the net," DeBole said of the 19-goal scorer.
In that loss to Mendon, which plays for the Class A title Tuesday, Schroeder also tied it at 1, but lost. This time, it found a way to win.
"I think that (early deficit) woke us up a little bit and we were knocking on the door, knocking on the door," Warriors coach Dave Urbanski said.
The second half was more even and each goalie came up big with Catalfamo tipping DeBole's dangerous cross over the bar and Andy Siviy knocking Jay Vakiener's cross wide.
At the 25-minute mark, Fairport had two scrambling chances in front, but Schroeder survived, in part, because of the hustle of defensive midfielder David Wanits. He was named the game MVP for the Warriors, and Urbanski likens him to his "right arm," because his leadership is like an extension of the coach.
"A lot of people were questioning where we might be," after graduating All-America playmaker and All-Greater Rochester Player of the Year, Anthony Rozzano, All-State defender Danny Peckham and Michael Hynes, who Wanits replaced.
In all, 10 seniors were lost. But the program's depth produced 17 more senior players this fall. "They're huge. They're fast. They're hard. They've been to a state final," Bussani said.
And Schroeder's confidence wasn't shaken by falling behind. Urbanski said the team has talked about how to play if it happened again. The pressing strategy worked, although Fairport did look dangerous on a few counter attacks.
"We just wanted to keep our composure. We had a whole entire game to play," said DeBole (seven goals/nine assists). "We just kept doing what we do, played our game and fortunately we were able to come out with the victory."