by Matthew Suh ’24
SACRAMENTO, CA — On Saturday, the Bellarmine Bells outlasted the Rio Americano Raiders in penalty kicks to win the CIF DII NorCal Championship Game! Although Bellarmine lost to Rio Americano earlier in the season, they wouldn’t let that end their historical run and an incredible season. Instead, Bellarmine went into overtime and then penalty kicks, where they beat Rio Americano.
Before the game, ominous clouds and a short drizzle covered the field before the sun emerged and the wind began to pick up. Bellarmine dominated the match in terms of the time of possession, and Keagan Rhodes scored a goal before halftime to give the Bells a 1-0 lead before halftime. In the second half, Rio Americano tied the game at 1-1 with a penalty kick score. While Bellarmine had multiple shot opportunities throughout the rest of the game, Rio Americano’s goalie came up clutch multiple times, keeping the game tied at 1-1.
Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, the game went into a 15 minute overtime where neither team could produce a go-ahead goal. As a result, the game went to penalty kicks, and Bellarmine’s goalie, Nic Thiele, came up clutch multiple times and stopped two of Rio’s penalty shots, leaving the door open for Bellarmine’s Ian Pearce. On what would be the final penalty kick of the game, Pearce won the championship for the Bells.
With their CIF DII NorCal Championship win on Saturday, the Bells became CIF DII NorCal Champions for just the second time in school history! Bellarmine has now won two NorCal titles this year: one with football and one with soccer! On a Twitter post congratulating the Bells on winning the CIF DII NorCal Championship Game, 49ers Cal-Hi Sports wrote, “Congrats!! Never count out the Bells!”
CIF DII NorCal Championship Game Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scYI8hrZ31s
Matthew Suh is a staff writer and contributor for The Bell Online, Fresh Coast Sports, and The Press Box. He is passionate about the intersection of sports and culture and loves to explore the stories behind the games. Follow Matthew on Twitter @matthewsuh.