by Tom Utescher
In the closest contest of the 2011 Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Soccer Invitational Tournament, SCHA and the boys team from Germantown Friends battled to a 3-3 tie in regulation play, and went to penalty kicks after the stalemate held up through a five-minute overtime period. After the first round of five shots the issue was still not resolved, and as the session went to a golden goal format, SCHA senior goalie Sam Feirson saved the sixth GFS kick and then took the next PK for the Blue Devils himself, scoring on Tigers sophomore Luke Scott to allow SCHA to advance to the finals.
The nailbiter occurred in the tourney semifinals last Friday, and followed Shipley School’s 2-1 win over St. Joseph’s Prep in the other semifinal match. Because the grass soccer field at SCHA had not recovered from the rains produced by storms Irene and Lee, all the action was moved over to Shipley’s artificial turf complex in Gladwyne.
When the figurative and the literal “host” teams met on Saturday morning, Blue Devils junior Andrew Marcantonio-Fields (universally known as “Marco”) scored in the first half and SCHA made the lone goal stand up for a 1-0 victory over the Gators.
“We hadn’t beaten Shipley since I’ve been here,” pointed out third-year SCHA coach Joe DiSalvo, “and even though we ended up playing at Shipley, it was our tournament and the guys really wanted to win.”
There was supposed to have been a tourney consolation game between Germantown Friends and the Prep, but GFS defaulted, largely because the time of the contest had been moved up to 9:00 AM from the original 1:00 PM start.
The Tigers’ soccer program has graduated several strong classes of athletes in a row, and longtime coach Matt Zipin is still experimenting with player combinations for the 2011 campaign. Among the seniors on last year’s team was the starting goalie, but just in the nick of time a new student at the school, Luke Scott, has stepped into the breach.
“He’s solid, he’s got good hands and good instincts, and we’re very happy to have him,” Zipin said.
One of the team captains, senior Henry Bushnell, is in the final stages of recuperating from an ACL injury he suffered back in January. He did not play last weekend, but has been practicing with the team and should be back in the line-up shortly. The other tri-captains are also senior midfielders, Hank Goldenberg and Gilman Myran.
Three other seniors started for the Tigers in last weekend’s tourney: defenders Bryce Low and Nick Miller, and Diego Sanz, who can play forward or mid (Zipin is also prone to moving the lanky Myran around on the field, as needed).
The juniors who have made the first string are Sam Conant (mid), Sam Hill-Cristol (mid), defender Will Randall and forward Zack Raynor, and the sophomore starters are midfielders Jack Moseley and Owen Scott.
Last Friday against SCHA, Moseley quickly proved deserving of his starting role, getting GFS on the board first with a well-executed header off of a corner kick from the right by Conant. The icebreaker occurred a little over three minutes in, and eventually SCHA pulled even as Marcantonio-Fields found the net in the middle of the period.
It looked as though the teams would go into the halftime huddle tied at 1-1, but the Tigers went out with a flourish, getting markers from Hill-Cristol and Myran in the last 90 seconds of period.
“We made some good plays and burst through there a couple of times,” Zipin said. “Sam Hill-Cristol is a very good distributor and when he gets the ball he sees people really well.
“Rather than playing long balls,” the coach continued, “what we’ve been working on lately is holding onto the ball, finding a guy on your team, and playing the ball to his feet. I think as our skill level improves, we’ll be able to play that style a little better. We don’t really have any speedburners, so we can’t be looking for through balls all the time.”
During the intermission in Friday’s game, the SCHA players heard a lot about their defensive lapses from DiSalvo.
“Giving up three goals is not something we can continue doing,” the Devils’ mentor noted. “Goals are usually hard to come by, and if we give up three goals when we get into our Inter-Ac games, we’re not going to win.”
DiSalvo’s players were able to level the count in the second period. They needed to score early and senior Dan Trulear did, coming down the right wing and putting a shot past Scott when the GFS keeper advanced out of the cage. SCHA pulled even with about 19 minutes left in regulation play, when “Marco” stuffed in the rebound of a teammate’s shot.
The 3-3 count held up through the rest of the half and through a short OT stint, then the teams lined up for their penalty kicks. Early in the initial go-round, the Devils went up 2-1 as sophomore Anthony Liddy and junior Tom Higgins scored to the right of Scott. Germantown’s Myran beat the Devils’ Feirson on the same side. SCHA didn’t score again in the round of five, while the Tiger’s fourth shooter, Raynor, hit a ball down and in off the crossbar to even things up at 2-2.
Feirson turned aside a fairly soft shot on the sixth GFS attempt, and if he could score himself on the ensuing SCHA boot, the bout would be over.
“He saved four of their shots, and when he wanted to take one for us I thought he deserved the chance,” DiSalvo said.
The Devils’ keeper fired low on the right side to put the ball past his GFS counterpart.
“In that game I think we didn’t wake up until we were down 3-1,” DiSalvo admitted. “We were happy that we were still able to advance to the championship game. After that first half, I think we almost felt like we got away with something, so the guys made sure they were ready for Shipley. We changed our formation to put an extra guy in the back, and that helped us on defense.”
The Devils scored the only goal of Saturday’s game about 25 minutes into the action. On a missed outside shot for SCHA, the ball appeared to be going out over the endline, but senior Danny Hull got there in time to save it and knock the ball back across the front of the goal. “Marco” closed in at the far post to finish the play, and the Devils were able to hold off the Gators the rest of the way.