Oley Valley hurts Hawks’ aspirations
Hamburg’s Section 2 title hopes damaged by 7- 1 loss to Lynx
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.