Columbus Catholic won the opening round of the District 31 playoffs in dramatic fashion, defeating Belen Jesuit 14-6. With the win, the Explorers improved to 14-4 and will meet Gulliver Prep Wednesday night to defend its District 31 title. CC found itself in unfamiliar territory at the intermission, trailing 6-5, marking the first time the Explorers have been behind at the half in a District game all season. No one but the players and coaches will ever know what Coach Delang said at the half to fire up his team. But fire them up he did, resulting in a remarkable 2nd half turn of events. The Explorers’ Attackmen, Middies, Defenders and Goalie all came to life in the second half. In a short three minute span in the 3rd, CC scored four goals courtesy of Cody Brais, Nicky Quintairos, Alec Carreras and Michael Bulnes (Goucher College).
Bulnes, who leads the Explorers in scoring on the season, recorded 5 goals on the night coupled with 3 assists. Following closely behind in scoring and team leadership, Senior Alec Carreras scored 3 goals to go along with 3 assists. While the third quarter onslaught would be all the offense the Explorers would need to win this intense matchup between arch rivals, for good measure in the 4th, CC added five more goals. Juniors Danny Cicarelli and Kyle Glaser and Seniors Nicky Quintairos and Michael Bulnes made certain that the Explorers would end this game on a high note. Despite playing through a painful injury, Quintairos scored 3 goals in the contest. Notably, the Explorers’ second half dominance was not limited to its increased scoring output. This victory would not have been possible without stellar midfield and defensive play. Middie Sebi Cancio was a thorn in Belen Jesuit’s side, starting several plays that ended in second half goals. Face off specialists Jimmy Perry (7 wins out of 10) and Mike Perry (3 wins out of 4) were integral to time of possession. Equally important was the lockdown defensive effort in the second half by starting Defenders Brett Jacobs, Zach Garcia, Alec Cancio and LSM Matt Larrea. Last but certainly not least, between the pipes, Goalie Jon Nickas pitched a second half shutout, repeatedly frustrating Belen’s shooters. Nickas would finish the night with 12 saves. COL -Bulnes (5G/2A); Carreras (3G/3A), N. Quintairos (3G), Brais (1G/1A), Cicarelli (1G), Glaser (1G), M. Perry (2A), D. Rancano (1A), A. Volovar (1A). Nickas 12 saves. Eskra 2 saves. BELEN – Arrojo (2G), K. Pascual (1G), B. Pascual (1G), Rosell (1G), G. Garcia (1G), Powell (2A), Candela (1A). Salas 8 saves.