By: Wells Dusenbury
It seemed like a script out of a Hollywood movie. The former head coach coming back with an underdog squad to try and knock off the school that dismissed him.
Unfortunately for Jeff Goldberg and St. Thomas Aquinas, they couldn't quite pull off the Hollywood ending.
St. Andrew's held off St. Thomas Aquinas 11-8 in a back-and-forth game, spoiling the former Scots' head coach return.
"It was exciting to be back to see all of the kids I've spent a lot of years with," Goldberg said.
Goldberg spent 18 years as St. Andrew's head coach, winning 14 state championships, before being dismissed by the school prior to last season. Goldberg is in his first year as the Raiders' Associate Head Coach.
St. Thomas Aquinas, who came in as the underdog, came out of the gate strong for their new assistant coach. The Raiders jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, and held a one goal advantage for most of the first half before Jordan Todd tied the game for St. Andrew's at 4 right before halftime.
"The kids had a lot emotion coming in and we let that get a hold of us a little in the beginning," said St. Andrew's head coach R.J. Dawson, who previously served as an assistant under Goldberg.
"Coach G. has had an influence on a lot us, including myself. I told the guys, 'Coach G. made a lot of us, as coaches and players, and he's not going to be happy unless he's coming in here fighting for a victory and to pay the best compliment to Coach Goldberg would be to beat him.'"
The Scots responded to open the 3rd quarter with Andy Wheeler and Jake Levine both scoring to give St. Andrew's a 6-4 lead, but the Raiders answered with one of their own to cut the lead to just one entering the 4th.
After another Wheeler goal gave the Scots a 7-5 advantage, it looked like St. Andrew's would finally take control of the game, but the Raiders just wouldn't go away. Sophomore R.J. Curtain, who finished with a game-high four goals, scored back-to-back goals to tie the game at 7.
The teams then traded scores to make it 8-8 with under five minutes remaining. From there, St. Andrew's scored two in a row to give them a 10-8 advantage with 2:34 remaining, before tacking on a goal with 10 seconds left.
"Down the stretch they went deeper into their bench and that wore us down I think," said Goldberg.
Despite the loss, Goldberg was proud of his team's performance against his former squad.
"We said all year that we were going to get better," said Goldberg. "We're two-and-a-half months down the stretch and I never thought we would give them a three goal game tonight. I never thought it would be one down the stretch, but I think we overachieved and really impressed with our composure to stay in the game the whole way."
While the much-talked about match-up didn't fall in Goldberg's favor, the Raiders could very well see St. Andrew's again. If both teams win out, they would play each other in a potential Regional Final game.
"We can take away a lot of confidence out of this game because we know we can run with them." Goldberg said. "We'll learn from it and it's always better when you lose because you learn and now we have tape on them against us."
VIDEO: St. Andrew's edges Goldberg & St. Thomas Aquinas
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