MILLTOWN — Freshman Roman Paoli scored three times, including twice in quick succession in the second half, to lead Wilmington Charter to a 7-4 victory over Saint Mark’s on April 15. The win was the third straight for the Force after a season-opening loss.
Nicholas Duncan opened the scoring for Charter in the first, taking a crossing pass from Paoli in front of Spartans goalkeeper Logan Gibbons. Duncan was all by himself and didn’t miss the opportunity with 8:47 left in the quarter.
It took a while, but Saint Mark’s tied the score with 6:21 to go in the first half. Logan O’Neal scored the goal, beating Force keeper Bryson Duff high to the far side. The Spartans nearly took a lead after winning the next faceoff, but Jacob Wisniewski’s shot was stopped by Duff.
The Force found the net twice in the final five minutes of the half to take that lead into intermission. Nick Catanuto sent a laser under the foot of Gibbons, and Duncan notched his second at the 1:49 mark. That goal came after Catanuto missed when his bouncing shot rang off the crossbar, although Charter was able to keep possession, leading to Duncan’s opportunity.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans to cut the deficit in half in the third quarter. Joseph Walsh scored high into the net after Saint Mark’s created a chance by knocking the ball from a Force player. Charter had a man-up situation but could not take advantage, although they did send a shot off a post, a few minutes after the Spartans scored.
The Force capitalized the next time the Spartans were penalized. Paoli scored his first with just five seconds remaining on the penalty. He jumped to catch a pass to the right of the keeper, then sent the ball high into the net on his way down. Both sides recorded saves in the last minute, and the third quarter ended with Charter on top, 4-2.
Paoli struck again at the 10:16 mark of the fourth. He moved toward the Spartans’ net to the right of Gibbons, then deked his way into an open shot for his second goal. He completed the hat trick two and a half minutes later, intercepting an outlet pass 20 yards in front of the Saint Mark’s net and bouncing a shot in.
Charter scored its fourth unanswered goal less than a minute after that. This time, Cole Guarneri skipped one in.
The Spartans turned up the pressure after that, possessing the ball almost continuously after Guarneri scored. It paid off with 5:40 to go as Wisniewski took a pass about 15 yards from the net and beating Duff to his right. Duff made several key saves after that, but Walsh beat him with 2:21 to go. That would close out the scoring for the afternoon.
Charter finished with 25 shots, and Duff had 10 saves. The Force travel to St. Georges on Monday at 3:45 p.m.
The Spartans had 14 shots, and Gibbons had four saves. Saint Mark’s (3-2) will attempt to end a two-game losing streak Saturday at Red Lion. Game time is 2 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.