HAMBURG - The second-seeded Randolph boys soccer team (16-1-3) fell 1-0 in overtime to top-seeded International Prep (14-1) in the Section 6 Class C championship game on Friday night.
The close loss ends an impressive season for the Cardinals, who entered the matchup undefeated and just narrowly missing moving on to the regionals.
It was after two scoreless halves of play that sophomore Emmanual Iheke notched the only goal seven minutes into overtime on a shot that was set up by striker Pa Lu.
The ball was a low bender that found its way between defenders and could not be reached by goaltender Nick Carpenter, despite a diving effort.
"He played really great the whole game," said Presidents coach Tony Alessi of Carpenter. "We got plenty of shots on net and he had to make a lot of saves before that last one went in."
The Cardinals had a good opportunity to get on the board early in the first half, when senior Matthew Born was taken down on a breakaway and awarded a free kick. But I-Prep goaltender Ibrahim Omar was ready for the early test and made a diving save on Born's shot.
Shortly after being awarded the kick, Born had an outside shot that was blocked by the Presidents' defense.
I-Prep responded quickly to the Cardinals' early chances with their own offensive series, which included outside shots from Mohamed Hussein and Lu.
The Presidents nearly went up by one with 15 minutes to play in the period when Carpenter came out of his box to play a ball and almost gave up an open net.
International Prep had another good chance to score with five minutes to play when Ezana Kahsay took a free kick that curved just wide of the goal post.
After the first half, play intensified between the teams as did the streaking rain. The Cardinals were given another good chance to score early on a free kick awarded in the fifth minute.
From that point on, though, International Prep dominated the game offensively and was able to keep Born from getting many good looks. There was a mad dash of players in front of the Randolph net with 10 minutes to play in regulation, but Carpenter was able to find the ball and keep the game alive.
With six minutes to play the Presidents lost a primary defender due to a yellow card, which resulted in Randolph's best chance of the game. In the 37th minute the Cardinals put a ball off the post that was then cleared by Kahsay.
International Prep finished the final minutes with several good chances, but had to wait until overtime to finish the game.
The championship is the first of what will likely be many for Alessi, who was proud with the way his team played.
"Coming in here I knew it was going to be a one-goal game," he said after the win. "They are an excellent team, so we're thrilled to come out of here the winners."
Carpenter dealt with seven shots from the Presidents while Omar made five saves in the win.