Oley Val­ley hurts Hawks’ as­pi­ra­tions

Ham­burg’s Sec­tion 2 ti­tle hopes dam­aged by 7- 1 loss to Lynx

The Hamburg Area Item - - Sports - By Jeff De­wees For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

The Oley Val­ley Lynx are the de­fend­ing Berks League boys’ soc­cer cham­pi­ons. They cer­tainly played like it Thurs­day night in Ham­burg.

The host Hawks were dealt a se­ri­ous blow to their Sec­tion 2 ti­tle as­pi­ra­tions with a 7- 1 set­back at the hands of the Lynx on Sept. 28, in a con­test that was tight for 50 min­utes be­fore dis­in­te­grat­ing dur­ing the sec­ond half of play.

Ham­burg re­bounded 48 hours later, on Satur­day, Sept. 30, to post a 6- 1 win over Pottsville but that re­sult — com­ing out­side league play — did not al­ter the Sec­tion 2 race.

The Hawks ( 8- 5- 1, 4- 3 sec­tion) trail the Lynx ( 12- 2, 7- 1) by three games and sec­ond­place Fleet­wood by two- and- a- half as the reg­u­lar sea­son en­ters its fi­nal full week. With three sec­tion matches left, the Hawks have to sweep those games and get some help. The stretch run be­gins Tues­day af­ter­noon, at Fleet­wood.

Against Oley Val­ley, the dis­par­ity of pace be­tween the two sides was on full dis­play. The Lynx did not re­ally bother much with tac­ti­cal build- up play. Rather, the de­fend­ing champs were con­tent send­ing the ball into space from mid­field and hav­ing their fleet- of- foot front line run un­der it.

That ag­gres­sive ap­proach af­forded Oley Val­ley many scor­ing chances, to the tune of 13 shots on tar­get, seven of which found the back of the net.

“We’re start­ing to play the way I’ve been want­ing us to play all sea­son,” OV head coach Shawn Meals said. “First half of the sea­son, we were look­ing for the right chem­istry, guys in dif­fer­ent spots, float­ing around. I think we’re start­ing to click.

“I’ve been telling these guys all sea­son: You get the first ( goal), you need a sec­ond, a third. It’s high school men­tal­ity. You get those, heads drop; you keep the foot down.”

For Ham­burg, the mar­gin of de­feat was dis­ap­point­ing. The Hawks have done a good job de­fen­sively for the bal­ance of the sea­son ( Ham­burg’s 19 goals con­ceded is still good for third place in Berks 2 as of Sun­day). But things got away from them against the Lynx, in which the back line was con­sis­tently carved up.

“We were re­act­ing to ev­ery­thing,” Ham­burg head coach Chris Zalasky said, “and with a high- qual­ity squad like Oley, the county champs, you just can’t re­act to ev­ery­thing. You’ve got to an­tic­i­pate. We re-

acted to all their move­ments. We let balls drop and said, ‘ OK, what are we go­ing to do with it’ when it drops, in­stead of go­ing to it. And this is the first I’ve seen us do­ing this all year.

“It’s high school kids. Some days you have your ‘ A” game and oth­ers it’s more like your ‘ D’ or ‘ F’ game, like we had ( Thurs­day). We have to lick our wounds and get back at it. … You can’t get too high or too low.”

Oley Val­ley scored just 1: 02 into the con­test, when Alex LaVer­dure pot­ted home a carom in the box. The Lynx dou­bled the ad­van­tage just 3: 09 later, when John Pier­domenico beat Ham­burg keeper Travis Fe­g­ley on the first suc­cess­ful con­ver­sion of a num­ber of thru- ball at­tempts.

A third marker, com­ing at 31: 56 off the foot of Jae­gar Fran­gakis, gave the vis­i­tors a com­mand­ing 3- 0 lead at the break.

OV’s quick- strike open­ing threw Ham­burg be­hind the 8- ball with 75 min­utes still to burn, sep­a­rat­ing the hosts from their game plan.

“When you do that in the first five min­utes and you don’t come to play, that sets the tone for the en­tire game,” Zalasky said.

Bryce Berger got one back for the Hawks 1: 49 into the sec­ond half on a sub­lime, slid­ing boot from the 18 that beat OV goalie Austin Himes high to the top shelf to make it a 3- 1 con­test, the only shot on goal for ei­ther club dur­ing the next 26- plus min­utes.

But Josh Daniels slid one past Fe­g­ley at 67: 08 for a 4- 1 lead. From there, three of OV’s fi­nal five shots on tar­get went in, in­clud­ing sec­ond tal­lies for Fran­gakis and LaVer­dure.

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