Ferrari in Over-Drive---Saves the Season for DePaul
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The entire season, and in some cases entire careers, rested on the shoulders of DePaul freshman goalkeeper Joe Ferrari.
DePaul had battled Georgetown to a 2-2 tie after two overtimes Wednesday, and this BIG EAST playoff game had come down to penalty kicks.
Ferrari locked eyes with the Hoyas's leadoff man, Seth C'deBaca, stretched out the long arms on his 6-foot-3-inch frame and tried to make the net look as small as possible.
C'deBaca shot and Ferrari dove to his right to make the save. Right after the Blue Demons stopped celebrating, Patrick Hopkins calmly scored for a 1-0 advantage.
The energetic, personable Ferrari went through the same routine, looking to psyche out the next Georgetown shooter. Rob Burnett launched his shot from 12 yards out and this time Ferrari dove to his left for another spectacular save.
Penalty-kick goals by Mark Plotkin and Willy Lara gave the Blue Demons a 3-1 decision and sent them onto the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal matchup at 6 p.m. Saturday in Louisville.
"I try to read their eyes, watch where their hips are positioned and rely on my instincts," said Ferrari, who had seven saves going into the penalty kicks. " Then I just use my reflexes, which is my strength.
"I got both hands on both balls that I saved in the penalty kicks. After that first save, it felt great. I could hear all of my teammates screaming for me. Before we started the PK's, Erich Reichmann told me to pretend I was back at Wish Field stopping shots in practice."
Alex Mangan, who scored an uplifting goal (eighth of the season) in the first half to erase an early 1-0 Georgetown lead, couldn't have been any prouder of this rambunctious freshman.
"After we had a 2-0 lead in penalty kicks, one of their guys (Mark Zeman) scored a goal," Mangan said. "When Joe got back up, he hit his chest with his fist and said to us: 'My bad, my bad.' I remember thinking: 'Is this kid crazy?'
"He had just made two unbelievable saves, kept the season alive for all of us---especially the seniors---and he was down on himself for giving up ONE goal?
"That's why I love this kid."
Ferrari went out of his way to credit his defenders for having his back. But this rookie has been playing his best soccer of the season the last four games and he turned back four direct shots in regulation time and two overtimes.
Ferrari made a game-saving stop at the end of the first overtime, and did it again at the end of the second OT when Georgetown (9-8-2) unleashed a flurry of three shots in the final 30 seconds. In the first half, Ferrari frustrated the Hoyas with a totally reflexive kick save.
"I'm telling you, the saves Joe made today are not that unusual for him," Mangan said. "By the time he is done here, he could be the best goalie DePaul ever had."
As the overjoyed group of DePaul soccer parents began heading away from North Kehoe Field, there was Ferrari still anxious to share his moment in the limelight.
"Mangan's goal was so important---don't forget about that," Ferrari said. "And Steffen Vroom, oh man, what a huge score. We don't even make it to overtime without him."
Georgetown had taken a 2-1 lead at the 70-minute, three-second mark on Andy Riemer's goal. Just 1:40 later, Mark Plotkin served up a textbook crossing pass in front of the Hoyas net, and Vroom headed it in for his eighth goal of the season.
"Vroom came up with that clutch goal just when we needed it the most," Mangan said.
Up next for DePaul (8-9-2) is a rematch with No. 5 Louisville (13-2-2), who defeated the Blue Demons 6-0 on Oct. 3 at Wish Field.
"We didn't show up for that game," Mangan said. "They had their way with us. We'd like a chance to show them we're capable of playing much better than that."
NOTES: This is the third-straight year DePaul has advanced to the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals... more credit to Ferrari and the DePaul defense: Georgetown took 26 shots to DePaul's 14... the Blue Demons had seven shots on goal to nine for the Hoyas... Vroom took nine shots with four on goal and Mangan had two shots---both on target... Georgetown outshot DePaul 17-8 in the second half and both overtimes... Saturday's game at Louisville will be the fourth-straight road game for the Blue Demons, who have made stops at Tampa (USF), Queens, N.Y. (St. John's) and Washington, D.C.