OJR gets cru­cial early-sea­son win at Boyertown

The Community Connection - - SPORTS - By Austin Hert­zog ahert­zog@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @AustinHert­zog on Twit­ter

BOYERTOWN » It’s hard to imag­ine the sec­ond league game of the sea­son feel­ing like a must-win. But that would mean over­look­ing where the Owen J. Roberts boys’ soc­cer team has been.

A dis­as­trous 1-4 start to their Pi­o­neer Ath­letic Con­fer­ence cam­paign in 2017 left the Wild­cats in chase mode all fall, not an ideal po­si­tion to be in the con­stantly-com­pet­i­tive Lib­erty Di­vi­sion.

So the Wild­cats could be for­given for be­ing espe­cially boosted by their 2-1 come­from-be­hind vic­tory at Boyertown Thurs­day night.

Af­ter Boyertown’s open­ing goal from Lan­don Wenger was an­swered three min­utes later by OJR’s Josh Fon­der, ju­nior Noah Greenspan de­liv­ered the de­ci­sive goal with 16:26 left in reg­u­la­tion on a spec­u­la­tive but well-placed shot from 25 yards out be­fore OJR (1-1 PAC, 1-2 over­all) buck­led down and re­bounded from Wed­nes­day night’s over­time de­feat to Perkiomen Val­ley.

“Af­ter last night’s tough loss, I told the team that we’ve gotta bounce back,” se­nior Fon­der said. “One loss isn’t go­ing to de­cide our sea­son. Every­body bought into that and be­lieved and played like our sea­son was on the line.”

Boyertown (1-1, 2-1), un­der new coach Mark Cham­bers, who re­placed long­time coach Scott Didy­oung, was com­ing off a 2-0 win over Methac­ton on Wed­nes­day. While the re­sult wasn’t fa­vor­able, Cham­bers felt very fa­vor­ably about the Bears’ per­for­mance.

“We played the way we want to play, pos­sessed the ball and mixed things up well,” said Cham­bers, who last year was the Boyertown girls’ JV head coach. “That tonight was our best per­for­mance so far as a team even though the re­sult didn’t go in our fa­vor.”

“A cou­ple break­downs de­fen­sively cost us but against teams like Owen J. are go­ing to cap­i­tal­ize on their op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

OJR got the other side of the coin, also see­ing how per­for­mance doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily con­trol wins and losses.

“I would say we played just as well (com­pared to Wed­nes­day against PV), just tonight we got the re­sult. Things went our way,” OJR de­fender Beck­ett Houck said.

Fon­der, a Mer­cury Al­lArea first team se­lec­tion in 2017, de­liv­ered the goal of the night and an early can­di­date for PAC goal of the sea­son. Ju­nior Gavin Zorn won the ball 1-v-1 at mid­field, car­ried it for­ward and played a lofted, cen­ter­ing ball over the top be­tween the cen­ter backs to an on-rush­ing Fon­der, who rose and volleyed it with his boot over charg­ing Boyertown goal­keeper Ma­son Kurtz to level the match 1-1 at 27:52 in the sec­ond half.

“I’ve been try­ing to get him to play that ball through­out the sea­son so far. I told him I’m go­ing to be mak­ing those runs ev­ery game,” Fon­der said. “I put my hand up and he saw me and put it in a per­fect spot. It was an amaz­ing as­sist. He put it right where I needed it.”

The first half could not de­liver a break­through, but the Bears’ Wenger changed that 10 min­utes into the sec­ond half. Af­ter a strong spell from the Bears that forced a save off the goal line from OJR de­fender Dante Car­roll, Wenger picked up the ball on a goal­keeper clear­ance from OJR’s Ryan Walker and sprinted down the right side, catch­ing the OJR de­fense a step slow be­fore shoot­ing across goal for the 1-0 Boyertown lead.

Af­ter Fon­der’s re­ply, the game was largely even un­til an in­nocu­ous OJR free kick from mid­field was played into the penalty area and wasn’t cleared prop­erly by the Bears. Greenspan picked it up from 25 out and hit it to­ward the up­per-left cor­ner of goal. Kurtz man­aged to tip it up but couldn’t keep it out for the 2-1 OJR lead.

Se­nior cen­ter back Houck and the OJR de­fense got stronger down the stretch and min­i­mized Boyertown’s chances to the fi­nal whis­tle.

“I liked our ef­fort. We gave 100 per­cent the whole time and that’s what gave us the edge,” Houck said.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boyertown for­ward Nick Will­son (17) and Owen J. Roberts de­fender Dom Car­roll (28) bat­tle for the ball.

Boyertown’s Lan­don Wenger, right, cel­e­brates with Nick Will­son (17) af­ter scor­ing a goal in the sec­ond half against Owen J. Roberts.

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