Youth­ful Neshaminy edges Penns­bury to clinch

The Advance of Bucks County - - SPORTS - By John Glee­son

Even the chariot scene in Ben Hur paled in com­par­i­son to the drama in­her­ent in last week’s soc­cer show­down be­tween Neshaminy and Penns­bury. All the es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents were there; Se­nior Night for the Redskins, a big school ri­valry, and most im­por­tantly a shot at the Subur­ban One League (SOL) Na­tional Con­fer­ence ti­tle.

John Blickle, Neshaminy’s cen­ter mid­fielder, re­al­ized the game’s im­por­tance. “Ev­ery­body knew it was the big­gest game of the year, es­pe­cially against Penns­bury be­cause they’re our big ri­val. Ev­ery­one was so mo­ti­vated to win the game.”

Pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence told the “Skins they needed to shut down Penns­bury’s Char­lie Rush­ing. “We had played Penns­bury ear­lier. The first game was pretty even, but we ended up win- ning 2-0. This time, we knew we had to stop num­ber 10 (Rush­ing). He’s one of their bet­ter play­ers so we had to mark up on him. Next, we had to play our game and come out with a lot of en­ergy.”

The Redskins cer­tainly were de­ter­mined to make their Se­nior Night a to­tal suc­cess as they dom­i­nated most of the early ac­tion. Three min­utes into the con­test, Neshaminy’s Nick Tucci made a good run that was only thwarted by a great save by Penns­bury goalie Spencer McCul­lough. Cody Min­ing took the re­bound and blasted a shot that hit off the cross­bar.

John was not sur­prised by the ‘Skins’ early as­sault. “I could tell we were con­trol­ling most of the game. It was Se­nior Night and we had a big crowd. We were rolling with a bunch of mo­ti­va­tion and adren­a­line.”

Un­for­tu­nately for the home­town fans, the soc­cer gods did not fa­vor the ‘Skins with an ac­tual score. “We didn’t make any ad­just­ments at the half. Our coach (Tim Fo­ley) just said if we step it up a lit­tle bit more, we could pinch a goal and take the game.”

The big score came early in the sec­ond half. John well re­mem­bers the play. “Nick Tucci was on a free kick and it bounced out to Jim McCourt who crossed it again and Rey­naldo (Bonilla) was at the back of the net and fin­ished.”

The 1-0 win as­sured the Redskins sole pos­ses­sion of first place in the very bal­anced and com­pet­i­tive SOL Na­tional Division. The achieve­ment proved par­tic­u­larly sat­is­fy­ing for an in­ex­pe­ri­enced squad that had only two re­turn­ing starters in Nick Tucci and Austin Tran­sue.

In John’s words, “We are a very young team. We didn’t have many ex­pec­ta­tions com­ing into the sea­son. We didn’t know what was go­ing to hap­pen. It turned out that the young guys stepped up big and we went on a roll.”

With big wins over such tough league ri­vals as Penns­bury, Ten­nent, and CR South, the youth­ful ‘Skins gained a be­lief in their abil­ity. “Win­ning the league is al­ways a goal but we weren’t sure. We kept play­ing well and fi­nally got it. We kept get­ting big league wins and it gave us con­fi­dence so we rolled along on our con­fi­dence.”

Neshaminy did not have long to sa­vor their ti­tle­clinch­ing achieve­ment. The next night, they took on a very tal­ented Rad­nor team in a game that would prove a tune-up for the up­com­ing dis­trict playoffs. The ‘Skins magic pre­vailed as coach Fo­ley’s charges bested their

op­po­nent 2-1.

“Af­ter the Penns­bury game, ev­ery­one was pumped. We ac­tu­ally had a game the next day so we had to quickly get our mind on that. Af­ter that game, we had a short prac­tice and talked about be­ing SOL champs but we all knew we had to get ready to move on.”

Neshaminy’s 12-3-2 over­all record earned them a sixth seed in the PIAA Dis­trict One playoffs. The Skins open dis­tricts Oct. 23 when they take on Unionville (re­sults not avail­able at press time) in what they hope is a strong post­sea­son.

“I don’t know much about Unionville. For the past two years, we haven’t had that much luck in the playoffs. We have to go game by game and hope­fully make a big run.”

The spir­ited vic­tory over Penns­bury just might spark such a march to­ward dis­trict gold.

Chris Wat­son makes a great save for the Redskins.

Ken Her­rmann and Steve To­maszewski fight for pos­ses­sion.

Photo by John Glee­son

Rey­naldo Bonilla shows deft foot­work for Neshaminy

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