In a season that St. John the Baptist had a lot to be proud of, it ended in tears. The Cougars accomplished things they haven't done in quite some time, but they weren't thinking about that Saturday night.
St. John the Baptist fell just short of its real goal after a 2-1 loss to Fordham Prep in the CHSAA Class AA state boys soccer championship at St. John University's Belson Stadium.
"These were the best weeks of my life," SJB senior Michael Mosher said. "Not a lot of teams get to be here. We're lucky enough that we got to be here. We played our hearts out and it didn't go our way. I'll never forget this team."
St. John the Baptist (12-4-3) fell behind early. Spencer Heitmann's shot hit the post and it bounced to the foot of Dylan Cope, who scored with 19:50 left in the first half to give Fordham Prep (13-3-5) a 1-0 lead.
"They were very good defensively," said SJB first-year coach Nick Gallagher. "They went up early and we knew we had to chase it. They are tough to get one by them. The second one was the nail."
That one came with 7:02 left in the game when Sebastian Palomino scored, but SJB didn't give up. Junior Rosero scored his 18th goal of the season with 3:50 left to bring the Cougars within 2-1. Michael Gaffary made five saves for SJB and Fordham Prep's Mark Rajovic had eight saves.
"It's good to get to the state final," Gallagher said. "We would have liked to win it but we lost to a really good Fordham Prep team. We have nothing to hang our heads about."
St. John the Baptist won the Long Island CHSAA championship outright for the first time since 2001 as the third seed. The Cougars were co-champions in 2002 with Chaminade and lost in penalty kicks.
"It was a great season," Mosher said, "but of course we wanted this one. Nothing gets better than a state championship, but for some of us it was the first time beating St. Anthony's and Chaminade. It's a great feeling either way. There's been a lot of players that passed through here that haven't been lucky enough to win a championship, but I'm glad I was part of this team."
Fordham Prep won the state championship for the first time. Fordham Prep coach Peter McNamara is a graduate of St. John the Baptist. He lives in Huntington and his son, Gregory, plays for the Rams.
SJB was aiming for its first state title since 1998, but the program made huge strides this season.
"I'm proud of these guys," Gallagher said. "They really worked hard. I couldn't ask for more. As a first-year coach, they gave me everything."