La Salle boys soc­cer tops Lans­dale Catholic in Philly Catholic League quar­ter­fi­nals.

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

Chris Met­zler’s had a good ca­reer of ter­ror­iz­ing Philadel­phia Catholic League de­fenses.

Fri­day af­ter­noon, he au­thored an­other ro­bust per­for­mance as he and his se­nior class­mates on the La Salle soc­cer team try to keep their fi­nal sea­son go­ing. Matched up against a Lans­dale Catholic side that’s given him and the Ex­plor­ers noth­ing but fits in re­cent years, Met­zler made sure he’d get at least one more game.

The se­nior scored a goal and as­sisted the other three as No. 3 La Salle blanked No. 6 Lans­dale Catholic in their PCL boys soc­cer matchup 4-0.

“He rec­og­nizes where we’re at in the sea­son and he’s a gamer,” Ex­plor­ers coach Tom McCaf­fery said. “As a se­nior, when you’re on a team that wins back to back ti­tles, he doesn’t want to be the guy who lets us down to not get back to the big game. He knows when he’s on, he’s one of the best of­fen­sive play­ers in the league and when he’s locked in, he can get the job done.

“We’re see­ing right now he is locked in and wants to make an­other run, so we’re hitch­ing the wagon and hop­ing it’s a good ride.”

For 37 min­utes, the match played out like most LC-La Salle games over the past three years with both teams hav­ing spells of pos­ses­sion and cre­ativ­ity but not many shots as a re­sult of it. La Salle edged LC 2-1 in their reg­u­lar sea­son meet­ing back in Septem­ber, but that was the first time any cur­rent mem­ber of La Salle’s var­sity squad had beaten the Cru­saders.

LC was re­ally in­ven­tive through­out the first half, as the Cru­saders looked to at­tack out of the back and even started their of­fen­sive key­stone Matt McDon­ald as a de­fender. Owen Web­ster man­u­fac­tured a num­ber of good runs up the right side while Ray Royds and Jimmy Alff were very good higher up the pitch sup­port­ing.

“Owen did a phe­nom­e­nal job, we didn’t quite get McDon­ald go­ing as much but we at­tacked out of the back and used the space well,” LC coach Bill James said. “Our cen­ter mids were try­ing to keep the ball. As the first half ended and in the sec­ond half, we stopped con­nect­ing and got a lit-

tle too di­rect.”

Met­zler noted his team wasn’t get­ting many shots early in the first half, some­thing McCaf­fery at­trib­uted to LC’s or­ga­nized and strong de­fense. The Ex­plor­ers coach said his team was too de­lib­er­ate in the first half and any at­tempt to try and drib­ble through the LC backs would likely end in a dis-pos­sess­ing tackle.

La Salle hadn’t got­ten much out of its first four cor­ners, but on the fifth, Met­zler put the ball right on the money. Sean McCal­lum, who had subbed in a few min­utes be­fore, was able to sta­tion him­self in front of the keeper on the near post and got up to thump in the ser­vice with 2:35 left in the half.

“Luck­ily I was able to hit that one over the first de­fender and he was near post ready to put it in,” Met­zler said.

The first goal wasn’t the killer, but the sec­ond one La Salle got less than a minute later was. McCal­lum paid Met­zler back for the as­sist by play­ing the se­nior in and the striker did the rest.

“He played me the ball in the mid­dle and I saw the de­fender’s hips were fac­ing to the out­side so I was able to cut in the mid­dle and split two guys,” Met­zler said. “From there, I had an open shot on goal.”

The dou­ble-strike of­fen­sively was just the turn­ing point the Ex­plor­ers needed.

“We preach that af­ter you get one, you have to win the next five min­utes,” McCaf­fery said. “I take the hockey men­tal­ity there that the next shift is the most dan­ger­ous af­ter you score a goal. We try to do that with these guys to make sure they’re locked in and don’t take that deep breath to re­lax.”

Lans­dale Catholic likely could have man­aged be­ing down a goal at half, but giv­ing up a sec­ond in such quick suc­ces­sion re­ally forced the Cru­saders into some changes. Af­ter the break, McDon­ald left the back to play up top and as time went on, LC pushed more num­bers up which in turn gave La Salle more space to work with in pos­ses­sion.

“Met­zler is a spe­cial player,” James said. “We tried to con­tain him but he got be­hind us a cou­ple times and that hap­pened to be in the mo­ment where he burned us and put the ball away.”

La Salle hit for two quick goals again in the sec­ond half, the first com­ing when Bren­dan Cur­ran fi­nally knocked home a ser­vice into the box from Met­zler that pinged around a bit. A minute later, Met­zler played a ball to David Stein­bach and the se­nior mid­fielder clob­bered the chance into the back of the net to ice the win.

With a healthy lead, the Ex­plor­ers were able to use their pos­ses­sion as a weapon and made LC work to get the ball. McCaf­fery said that wasn’t an easy task due to LC’s high workrate but he felt his de­fend­ers worked well as a unit to keep the ball mov­ing.

“We knew we had to stop Matt McDon­ald, he’s their main guy so we had to know where he was at all times,” Met­zler said. “We didn’t have to out-work them, but we had to make them work harder by mov­ing the ball around and mak­ing them chase more.”

LC’s sea­son does not end. As the top 2A team in the PCL, they will play for the Dis­trict 12 ti­tle on Oct. 30, then play in the Dis­trict 1/12 sub­re­gional the fol­low­ing Satur­day. Cru­saders keeper Zach Shep­ard­son played well, mak­ing six saves and was ag­gres­sive in the box against 10 La Salle cor­ners.

“That was the talk af­ter, we still have a lot of soc­cer to be played,” James said. “We’re go­ing to use a loss like this to fuel things mov­ing for­ward over the next week with­out matches then get­ting out there and work­ing to make sure the sea­son con­tin­ues.”

The Ex­plor­ers will face No. 2 Arch­bishop Wood, a 3-0 win­ner over Arch­bishop Car­roll, in Wed­nes­day’s semi­fi­nal round at Arch­bishop Ryan. The Vik­ings beat La Salle 4-0 in their reg­u­lar sea­son meet­ing.

While La Salle won the last two PCL ti­tles but Met­zler noted there’s a lot of guys on this year’s squad new to the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It means a lot, we worked for this the whole sea­son,” Met­zler said. “It all comes down to the next 80 min­utes we play.”

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

La Salle’s Chris Met­zler con­trols the ball as Lans­dale Catholic’s Evan Se­nour de­fends Fri­day.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lans­dale Catholic goalie Zach Shep­ard­son setup as La Salle’s Chris Met­zler takes a shot on goal Fri­day.

GENE WALSH — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Lans­dale Catholic’s Steve Esterle set­tles the ball near La Salle’s Ed­ward Lof­tus Fri­day.

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