St. Joseph’s Prep ends drought against Ex­plor­ers

Ritchie’s two goals give Hawks first win over PCL ri­val since 2013

The Review - - SPORTS - By Mike Cabrey mcabrey@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com @mp­cabrey on Twit­ter

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.”

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