Cathedral Catholic boys overpower Del Norte to reach CIF soccer championship game

Senior Kevin Kappes scored a pair of goals in Cathedral Catholic's CIF Open Division semi-final Tuesday.
Senior Kevin Kappes scored a pair of goals in Cathedral Catholic’s CIF Open Division semi-final Tuesday.
(Ken Grosse)

A four-goal second half eruption blew open what had been a close game Tuesday night, May 25, as No. 1 seeded host Cathedral Catholic rolled past fourth-seeded Del Norte, 5-0, in the CIF Open Division Boys Soccer semi-finals.

The victory catapults the Dons (10-3-2) into Friday afternoon’s (May 28) CIF Championship match against third-seeded San Pasqual, a semi-final winner over St. Augustine in penalty kicks. Kickoff will be 4:30 PM at Mission Bay High School.

Talking about whether his best case pre-match scenario had a 5-0 option, Hetherington said, “No, in no way did I think this would be the result. Del Norte’s a solid team and it was just a matter of them having an off game and us being on-point from the very beginning—everything we’ve talked about needing to do from Day One.

“To see our guys figure it out throughout the season and then having it all come together and get a result like this in the CIF semi-finals is just really special for them and for us as coaches.”

Stefano Brunetto also registered two goals.
Stefano Brunetto also registered two goals.
(Ken Grosse)

The Dons got what proved to be the only score they would need in the 21st minute. Junior Stefano Brunetto won a race to the ball just inside the top of the goal box and lifted a soft shot over Del Norte’s keeper, who had come off his line. As it bounced slowly towards the goal, an alert Night Hawk defender raced back to narrowly save it from crossing in but the only place he could re-direct was right onto the foot of the oncoming Brunetto who easily found the net to give Cathedral a 1-0 lead.

That’s how it stayed going into halftime and according to Hetherington, the break came at an opportune time for his club.

“The last 10 minutes of the first half they actually had a good run of play and were starting to get a rhythm,” he said. “It just worked out that halftime came at a perfect time. That killed their momentum and they made a mistake right away in the second half.”

Cathedral senior Carson Glaser
Cathedral senior Carson Glaser
(Ken Grosse)

Or maybe they just ran into a buzzsaw by the name of Kevin Kappes. The shifty senior hit the scoreboard twice in the first five minutes of the second session, effectively sealing the game for the Dons. Goal No. 2 came off a turnover and Kappes, displaying some fancy footwork, created space and buried it efficiently. Shortly thereafter, he converted a penalty kick earned by senior defender Carson Glaser who joined the attack and got fouled in the box.

Hetherington ‘called’ Kappes’ first tally before it happened. “I knew before he hit it that it was going in,” said Hetherington. “I literally started celebrating on the sideline because I’ve seen it so many times.

“When he gets in that situation around the goal, he’s so clinical. Kevin’s a special player that is always going to give us something.”

Brunetto and senior Marcus Terzoli accounted for Cathedral’s final two scores. Brunetto made a short run along the end line left of the goal before poking a sharp-angled shot across the goal mouth. It may have glanced off a Del Norte defender before reaching the far side netting. In the 58th minute, Terzoli pushed the margin to five, soaring over a crowd out front to head a corner kick home. The goal output was the Dons’ highest of the season. Their coach declared the attacking style his side displayed to be the most pleasing aspect of the night’s performance.

“Our movement off the ball was finally what we’ve wanted,” said Hetherington. “We’ve just been a little stagnant and been kind of hitting our heads against the wall as far as creating and finishing off scoring opportunities—it finally came together tonight.”

Which brings us to Friday night’s showdown between Cathedral Catholic and San Pasqual. For Cathedral, which has played in all but one (the first) CIF Open Division tournament, this will be the first time in the finals since 2016 when it won the second of consecutive titles. The victim in the 2016 finale was none other than San Pasqual. That night, the Dons piled up three first half goals en route to a 3-0 decision.

It will be a much more seasoned San Pasqual club they’ll encounter this time. The Palomar League champion Vaqueros (13-2-3) have earned a spot in every Open bracket since qualifying for their first one in 2016 but are still in search of their first banner. They’ve won eight straight coming into Friday, outscoring foes, 18-2, over that span.

Hetherington’s well aware of the challenge. “San Pasqual is a great team that is playing very, very well right now,” he said. “It’s going to be a test for sure but we were fortunate to have been able to get a lot of our starting lineup off the field with about 20 minutes to go against Del Norte.

“That’s going to be helpful Friday. We’ve just got to get them fresh and ready for the final.”