Werner saves the day, helps La Salle win Catholic League boys' soccer title

La Salle's Zach Hogan (center) celebrates a goal with teammate Mike D'Angelo.

Brett Werner saw "an opportunity."

With about five minutes remaining in the first half of the Catholic League boys' soccer championship, Werner, La Salle's keeper, was tested.

The shot flew off a Roman Catholic player's foot and seemed certain to find its destination in the back of the net.

Werner had other ideas.

"I saw an opportunity to make or break the game," the junior said "If I let that go in, the game goes away but if I save it, then we win. Thank God I saved it."

Werner made a lot of saves like that on Saturday night at South Philadelphia's Supersite, and as a result, his Explorers went on to beat the Cahilites, 2-1.

"He's an incredible player and if I had to pick a kid on this team to build around it would be Brett," senior Zach Hogan said. "He's the best goalie in the league, by far, and without him we wouldn't be here right now."

The Explorers (16-1-3) got off to a hot start, scoring twice within 1 minute, 7 seconds to put Roman (13-2-6) on its heels.

"It's pretty crazy," senior midfielder Spencer Patton said. "I never thought at the beginning of the season in August - preseason - that we'd be able to do this. . . . It feels really good to bring it back to La Salle."

Roman pressed late, getting a goal with 14 minutes remaining, and looked to equalize off of restarts, putting high pressure on the La Salle defense.

"We knew it was coming," Werner said. "It's the PCL, it's high school soccer."

After the celebration - the dousing of coach Tom McCaffery with water and pictures with the plaque - Werner found his coach, who placed his hands on his shoulders and shook him.

"I guess it was one of those things where we finally got to meet up and have a little talk," McCaffery said.

What did McCaffery say?

Two years ago, he told Werner that a lot of what the Explorers would do in the postseason would come down to his play. That's how much potential he thought he had.

Having lived up to that Saturday, the words came easy to McCaffery.

"I just told him I was proud."

Roman Catholic 0 1 - 1

La Salle 2 0 - 2

Goals: RC - Matt Flanagan; L - Mike D'Angelo, Zach Hogan

Saves: RC - Kevin Tobin 5; L - Brett Werner 6

kharman@philly.com @ka_harman