Area soccer fans will have to wait to find out who the best soccer team is in the Catholic Girls Athletic Association.
After 190 minutes of play covering two matches, Paul VI and Bishop O'Connell are still tied. The two squads, who have won 18 games between them without a loss and are tied for the lead in the CGAA, met for a second time this season last week and, for the second time, left the field with a 1-1 tie.
Melissa Belrose of Paul VI scored with only 25 seconds remaining in the second overtime to deadlock the latest match, characterizing the series history between the teams.
A year ago Paul VI edged O'Connell, 2-1, in five overtimes during the CGAA tournament. In 1985 O'Connell edged Paul VI, 2-1, in the league semifinals. The most recent match adds to the rivalry that has intensified since Paul VI opened its doors in 1984 in Fairfax.
"O'Connell used to get most of the kids in the area that wanted to go to a private school," O'Connell Coach Alberto Staraci said. "But now Paul VI is getting many of the kids that would have gone to O'Connell and it has created a rivalry."
Staraci, who coaches girls soccer at Madison High School in the spring, has O'Connell off to a 10-0-2 start. Twins Kathy and Eileen O'Brien are the leaders, along with forwards Mary Pitera and Karen Sirotniak and goalkeeper Kristine Larmer. The Knights have allowed just three goals all season, two coming against Paul VI.
Paul VI, 8-0-2 under first-year Coach Sue Vodica, an assistant at West Springfield High School in the spring, also has surrendered just three scores. The Panthers, who won the CGAA tournament a year ago, are led by defender Sonja McCarthy, forward Anne Alessi and and goalkeeper Molly Kirchner.
In last week's game, O'Connell scored four minutes into the first overtime when Sirotniak converted a rebound. Belrose converted a rebound as time was running out in the second extra period to salvage the tie for the Panthers, who played without three injured players.
"I was thinking that it would be nice to tie the game in the last minute," Vodica said. "I didn't know much about O'Connell before this season except that the kids always talked about them. It wasn't a pretty game, but it was exciting, which is what you want to see when two good teams meet."
Paul VI and O'Connell could meet again in the Catholic Girls Athletic Association tournament (Nov. 5-6). Only league rivals Holy Cross, LaReine and Regina, all from Maryland, could stop a third matchup. Until then, fans, and the teams will just have to wait.