Dom­i­nant Perk Val­ley cruises into PAC cham­pi­onship

The Phoenix - - SPORTS - By Rob Se­nior For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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.”

MJ MCCONNEY - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Perkiomen Val­ley cel­e­brates af­ter AJ Hansen, sec­ond from left, scored the team’s open­ing goal against Potts­grove.

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