West ral­lies to hand Knights 1st loss

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - SPORTS - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

The ball fell right where Colin Burn wanted it to.

A flicked on header caught a re­treat­ing North Penn de­fender and keeper in a mo­ment of hes­i­ta­tion, al­low­ing the ball to bounce in front of the Cen­tral Bucks West se­nior. That was the win­dow Burn needed Thurs­day, rac­ing into the free space and flick­ing home a golden goal over­time win­ner.

Burn’s goal felled the Knights 4-3 in the first over­time as CB West handed North Penn its first de­feat of the sea­son in a game that was noth­ing but stir­ring theater.

“I was just hop­ing they’d let it go, I hoped I would get there and I just did,” Burn said. “We put Bai­ley (Moyer) up top so we got more at­tack­ing-minded and our in­ten­sity in­creased be­cause we were flat in the first half.”

About a month ago, the sides met at CB West with North Penn com­ing out a 4-2 win­ner in a thrilling come­back that saw the

Knights net four goals af­ter be­ing down 2-0 at the half.

Thurs­day fol­lowed a sim­i­lar plot, with dif­fer­ent ac­tors. The Knights (14-1-0, 9-1-0 SOL Con­ti­nen­tal) all but out-and-out dom­i­nated the first half, play­ing their brand of high-tempo, on the ground soc­cer.

Josh Jones helped the Knights open the well first when the big sopho­more got above the crowd and headed home Ryan Ste­wart’s cor­ner kick not even five min­utes into the game. North Penn con­tin­ued to ping the ball around, cre­at­ing chances and flus­ter­ing the Bucks be­fore Ste­wart as­sisted an­other goal.

The ju­nior won a ball in the mid­field, then played an ex­quis­ite through ball into the chan­nel right into the path of Mike Chaf­fee. Chaf­fee then capped the chance with a su­perb fin­ish, hit­ting a low shot that bent it­self away from stand­out West keeper Dy­lan Smith.

“They played a great sec­ond half, so they de­serve a lot of credit for that,” Knights coach Paul Duddy said. “They took the game away from us and did what they wanted to do. We did some things that were un­char­ac­ter­is­tic but they forced it.”

At the break, the Bucks (12-2-0, 9-1-0) gath­ered as coach Stefan Szy­giel laid into them af­ter a lack­lus­ter first 40 min­utes.

“They’re so ta­lented and they have so many weapons but we were able to gen­er­ate enough pres­sure and with mov­ing an­other guy up top and press­ing a lit­tle higher up the field, we cre­ated more chances and moved the ball,” Szy­giel said. “We po­si­tioned the sec­ond half to them as ‘what if this was two weeks from now and what if it was an elim­i­na­tion game?’ It’s lose and go home and that’s what this game has be­come be­cause (North Penn) is the type of team you have to go through.”

The other guy top was Moyer, West’s stand­out ju­nior who is tech­ni­cally a de­fender but ends up play­ing mid­field and for­ward in most of the Bucks’ matches. He sparked West right off the sec­ond half tap, go­ing into a dead sprint to run down a long ser­vice and tuck­ing it in­side the near post for a goal just 35 sec­onds into the half.

Szy­giel de­scribed the ju­nior as a “hy­brid” and Moyer was re­lent­less through­out the sec­ond half as the Bucks wrested con­trol of the match.

“We had noth­ing to lose, threw our­selves for­ward and just grinded,” Moyer said. “We pounded the balls for­ward un­til we could fin­ish. We just wanted to keep the ball, their best play­ers are up top so we wanted to keep the ball away from our goal. Ev­ery­thing we got, we one-touched up the field.”

Carter Houli­han re­stored North Penn’s two-goal lead with an in­cred­i­ble bit of ma­raud­ing play for­ward. Hav­ing dropped into the back, the ju­nior chested down a West ball, then took off with pur­pose up the left touch­line.

Houli­han dropped the ball to Jared Huzar and kept go­ing, round­ing a de­fender to get the ball back from Huzar, then rip­ping a shot past Smith off the far post and in with 25:42 left in reg­u­la­tion.

“Ap­par­ently nei­ther of us can de­fend each other,” Szy­giel said. “Paul and I have been coach­ing against each other for six years and we’ve never seen games like this be­tween the two teams where it’s juts goals af­ter goals.

“Dy­lan doesn’t give up that many goals. We’ve let up like nine goals all sea­son and seven of them are to this team, which is also a tes­ta­ment to how darn ta­lented they are.”

The Bucks caught the Knights out of shape with 20:42 left when Jack Glick chanced a shot off the left flank that found its way over the top and into the back of the net, again pulling West within a goal. From there, the Bucks re­ally started to im­pose their will.

All through the sec­ond half, Szy­giel kept yelling “sec­onds” from his bench, im­plor­ing his guys to the vi­tal­ity of win­ning ev­ery sec­ond-chance ball. The best way to keep a slick-mov­ing team like North Penn from mov­ing is to keep the ball off the ground and there were an abun­dance of head­ers in the sec­ond frame.

“We need to learn to stay pos­i­tive and stick to­gether,” Duddy said. “It’s worked all year and this was one game. There was no guar­an­tee we were go­ing to go through the league or sea­son un­de­feated, that’s for sure. (West) played well.”

The Bucks knot­ted the game 3-3 when Jimi Leder headed home Burn’s cor­ner kick on a play that nearly mir­rored Jones’ open­ing goal for the Knights. North Penn had a cou­ple chances late, but Smith was able to make a great save on Knights striker Luke McMa­hon and an­other on Ai­den Jerome to send the game to ex­tra time.

“We def­i­nitely felt like the mo­men­tum was all on our side,” Burn said. “We thought we should have won in reg­u­lar time, but we knew we’d come out with the same in­ten­sity.”

Burn struck with 4:51 left in the first over­time, prompt­ing the Bucks’ bench to rush the field in cel­e­bra­tion. Split­ting the sea­son se­ries with the Knights was no small ac­com­plish­ment.

“This shows we can hang with any­one,” Moyer said. “If peo­ple see two losses and look down on that, they shouldn’t be­cause we’re not a team to be looked down on.”

“It begs the ques­tion of maybe we should play that way all the time, that’d be in­ter­est­ing,” Szy­giel said. “It’s the way we play and any­one who watches us knows we’re not afraid to get into a phys­i­cal bat­tle, we’re not afraid if you score on us be­cause we know how to lose, how to come back and how to do ev­ery­thing in be­tween. This is where the value of this se­nior class comes in, this is the time of year where we need to see it and this is a step in the right di­rec­tion.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.