St. Joseph’s Prep ends drought against Explorers
Ritchie’s two goals give Hawks first win over PCL rival since 2013
A win over La Salle was a long time coming for Kane Ritchie and the St. Joseph’s Prep boys soccer team.
“My Prep career we haven’t beaten La Salle like at all,” said Ritchie, a junior. “This is the first big win this season — more to come hopefully.”
Ritchie scored twice in Oct. 2’s Philadelphia Catholic League contest, finding the back of the net once in each half to send the Hawks out to a 2-0 lead as Prep held off a late Explorers charge to claim a 2-1 victory at La Salle’s Lower Bartley Field.
“It’s a big deal for sure,” said Ritchie of his brace. “Especially coming out of last season’s (PCL) semifinal big loss — 2-2 then we lost in PKs. Especially cause I missed a PK, little bit redeeming myself this time.”
The Explorers (7-2-0 league) came in having won their last six meeting with St. Joe’s Prep — including Catholic League playoffs victories the last two seasons — but La Salle had a tough time creating sustained offensive chances against the Hawks backline until the final minutes as Prep (5-1-1) claimed its first victory in the rivalry since a 1-0 win in 2013.
“It was the last 15 minutes and we kind of pushed numbers forward and they got a little desperate is when we kind of created some things,” Explorers coach Tom McCaffery said. “Before that, their backline did a great job, 23 (Thomas Magiera) played a heck of a game... he played a great game at center back, really did some nice things to negate our lone forward. “I just think we sat a little bit too deep with their speed and kind of just sat in a little too much, never really got forward on them.”
Chris Metzler pulled the Explorers within a gaol with 9:10 left in regulation as he got on a loose ball in the 18-yard box and bounced it pass the diving reach of Prep keeper Aidan Hartey.
La Salle’s best chance for an equalizer late came off a throw-in with Metzler trying to get his head off a header deflected in the box but Hartey grabbed the ball of the air in front of the Explorer midfielder.
“We’ve had coming in and out with injuries and we’re trying to find our way through it. Try to make better decision in the front third and quicker decisions,” McCaffery said. “I think right now that they game’s moving pretty fast. We’re trying to get to that level. So hopefully we figure it out in the next two weeks before the playoffs start.”
After not having lost a PCL game since 2015, the Explorers have now dropped two in the span off a week — falling to Archbishop Wood 4-0 Sept. 26 to end their 33game league win streak. La Salle rebounded by beating Archbishop Ryan and Archbishop Carroll but could not make it three straight wins. The Explorers then face dPCL leader Roman Catholic 7 p.m. Friday at the Ukrainian American Sports Center in Horsham.
“As we’ve done for the last couple years, it’s kind of a game-by-game. We don’t try to get too far ahead of ourselves. If that were the case we would of been looking ahead of these guys and looking at Roman on Friday,” McCaffery said. “You’ve got to treat every opponent with respect, recognizing the fact that these young guys that Roman and Wood and St. Joe’s have had over the last two seasons are now upperclassmen and they’re quality players.
“And that’s the best thing about our league is that it’s always stacked with quality. As much as we’ve been successful the last couple years, if things had broke differently in a couple of those situations, this would have been a result we would of seen earlier.”
St. Joseph’s Prep, unbeaten in its last four PCL games (3-0-1), then took on Archbishop Wood at 7 p.m. Friday at Temple University.
Ritchie said a big factor in the Hawks finally ending their six-game skid to La Salle was that Prep had built some confidence in its attack after a pair of decisive wins over ConwellEgan and Lansdale Catholic last week.
“This past weekend we beat Egan 6-0 (last Saturday) and Lansdale 4-1 (last Friday) so I think we just learned how to put the ball in the back of the net,” Ritchie said. “And we were crashing the six, getting those balls in, playing scrappy.”
Ritchie’s opening goal came on a second-chance effort in front of the goal. The La Salle goalkeeper made a tremendous save to deny Evan Filak’s point-blank blast, but the ball deflected into the air and Ritchie was there to head the ball in to make it 1-0 Hawks at 27:55 in the first half.
“It was a hard from Evan’s foot and the keeper just bounced it off his hands and I just jumped out and knocked it down in the corner,” Ritchie said.
St. Joe’s Prep doubled its advantage in the ninth minute after halftime, Filak getting past the La Salle defense on the right flank before sending a cross into the box to Ritchie, who knocked the ball into the right side of the net.
“I was making the farpost run and the ball just came across and I had to take it across my body and just lay it off into the far post.”
The Explorers finally broke through in the final 10 minutes. Colin Doyle made a run into the right side box that sent a low cross to the front of goal. A shot by David Steinbach was blocked but Metzler got on the deflection and put a left-footed effort into the goal.
“That’s the one thing I’ll always give our guys credit for is that they grind and that they work their tails off. And that goal’s an indication of that,” McCaffery said. “As we forced numbers forced, we just kind of kept grinding on them and just trying to get after them, wave after wave and fortunately we found one there. And unfortunately we ran out of time. Another 10 minutes, who knows.”