Dominant Perk Valley cruises into PAC championship
The tie game — it’s the lost art form of the sports world.
Impossible in basketball, all but outlawed in ice hockey, and universally panned in pro football, for some sports fans a tie game represents the one unacceptable resolution to a contest— which is to say, a complete lack of a resolution.
But for the Perkiomen Valley soccer team, the result was something of a lifeblood to their 2018 Pioneer Athletic Conference campaign — one that will now end in a chance to play for a championship.
The Vikings played a dominant 80 minutes Tuesday night, scoring twice in the first four minutes of the game and never looking back in topping Frontier Division champion Pottsgrove, 5-0, in a PAC Final Four semifinal at Owen J. Roberts.
Perkiomen Valley’s record (10-16, 7-1-5 PAC regular season) might read like an area code, but at one point a piece (teams receive three points per win), those five draws allowed the Vikings to edge 8-4-1 Boyertown, 26-25, in seeding for the wild-card spots for the PAC playoffs.
“Losses kill,” summarized Perk Valley coach Bob McCabe, whose team will attempt to win its first PAC title of the Final Four era Thursday night. “We want points, not just for districts but in our division.”
Thus it was the Bears who had to battle a Spring-Ford team that went undefeated (11-0-2) through the PAC this year, while the Vikings made the most of a rematch with the same Pottsgrove side they bested 3-0 back on September 12.
“As games get bigger, you have to keep the ball out of your own net. We want zeroes on the board at all costs,” added McCabe.
Now the Vikings are set to encounter Spring-Ford in Thursday’s championship game after the Rams ousted Boyertown 2-1 in the evening’s other semifinal. PV battled the Rams to a — you guessed it — scoreless draw just last week.
“It’s a great rivalry,” said McCabe. “They took us out in the semifinals last year. There aren’t a whole lot of secrets — they want to get up and down the field, we want to muck it up a little bit.”
The Vikings wasted no time asserting themselves offensively Tuesday, as senior AJ Hansen finished a deflection off a corner kick just 2:34 into the contest.
When the Vikings get the first goal, they’re perfect in 2018. In their one loss and all six of their draws, the Vikings fell behind 1-0. Nothing about that would change Tuesday.
A Pottsgrove turnover set up Brian Love’s goal with numbers up on a counter attack just 29 seconds after Hansen’s opener, doubling the Vikings’ lead and creating a worst-case scenario for the Falcons—playing catch-up against the PAC’s stingiest defense.
“It changes everything,” allowed Pottsgrove coach Jay Witkowski. “A team that good defensively, and in a few minutes you’re down 2-0. From that moment, it’s an uphill battle.
“We moved some guys around, tried to open it up, but that leaves us susceptible on the other end.”
“That lead means everything for us,” confirmed Hansen. “We want to play our defense-first game — and that’s a lot easier when we get that first goal.”
Indeed, the Vikings quickly settled into their comfort zone — protecting a lead and working to thwart Falcons possessions and frustrate their opponents throughout any comeback attempt. Pottsgrove repeatedly found the midfield area crowded, with Valley defenders jumping every throw-in and rarely if ever being caught without at least three defenders and goalie Josh Moyer behind the ball.
When Pottsgrove was able to find a hole in the Vikings defense, PV keeper Moyer plugged it effectively, registering four firsthalf saves — only one of which seemed particularly challenging thanks to the defense forcing lowpercentage shots.
Just two minutes after the break, Moyer overran a long, bouncing pass into the box, but as usual, his defense was there to erase the damage. Seconds later, Max Chamorro finished off a counter-attack for an insurmountable 3-0 PV advantage.
Hansen would add a second tally at 22:38, joined quickly thereafter at 18:43 by Love’s second of the night off a flick-in header to extend the Vikings’ lead further as the squad’s attention slowly turned to Thursday and the rematch with Spring-Ford.
“We need to play our game — we leave everything out there on the field, every night. We’re a family. We believe in one another, and that’ll be the key in getting this win.”
Pottsgrove (10-7-2, 7-5-1 PAC regular season) will continue its season in the District 1 Class 3A playoffs. With eight teams qualifying, Pottsgrove, currently seeded No. 3, stands in good position to host at least one game.
“Historically we’ve done well in districts,” said Witkowski. “We need to put tonight behind us quickly, because I think we can compete with anyone in the district.
“But we obviously need to play better than we did tonight.”
Perkiomen Valley celebrates after AJ Hansen, second from left, scored the team’s opening goal against Pottsgrove.