HAVERFORD >> When Michael Buchy and his Garnet Valley teammates convened this fall to start a new soccer season, the ending of the last campaign was fresh in their minds.
The Jags used a torrid finish to burst into the playoffs, then gave No. 7 seed Abington all it could handle in an overtime ouster. With 12 seniors and several other returnees from that squad, the starting point this year had been set.
“That’s how we were talking about it,” Buchy said Tuesday. “We were saying we needed to start where we finished last season.”
Through five games, the Jags have done just that, the latest installment a 2-1 Central League win at Haverford Tuesday afternoon.
Nate Ominsky finished off both goals, the latter set up by Buchy in marshaling a solid defensive performance that left Haverford perplexed for most of the outing.
The Jags (4-1, 2-0) are putting themselves in position not to need a feverish finish like last fall’s. They started on the front foot Tuesday, with Ominsky tucking away his first goal in the 15th minute, powering home a rebound after Andrew Weir’s shot was pawed away by Haverford goalkeeper Nick Defeo.
“It gives confidence for the team and for me,” Ominsky said. “It gets people going because we believe in ourselves more.”
His second tally came in the 53rd, with Buchy lofting a ball from the backline over the Fords’ defense, letting Ominsky latch onto it and blast one low on which Defeo stood no chance.
Around the two goals, the Jags moved the ball fluidly, with the midfield triangle of Jacob Schwien, the silky Weir and the physically imposing Matt Moore doing pretty much what it wanted in possession. Defeo was called on to make eight saves, and more clinical finishing could’ve yielded more than just the two goals the Jags found.
But Garnet Valley was equally adept at the other end of the field. It utilized a high defensive line that goaded the Fords (2-3, 0-2) into seven offside calls before dropping deeper to mark runners in protecting the two-goal cushion.
Where Garnet Valley found the proper balance of timing runs to service over or through the backline, the Fords were largely confounded.
“They started yelling at each other a lot, and as long as you keep putting the balls away and just basically keep the ball moving, then they’re going to get frustrated,” said Buchy, who paired with Danny Sweeney in central defense.
“And then they start yelling at each other, and that’s when you’ve got them.”
Cam Morse finally found the Fords’ breakthrough 13 minutes from time. The sophomore fielded a pass from fellow sub Sean Lutz, took a touch around a defender and lashed the ball with his right foot that beat Garnet Valley goalie Tyler Tracy (three saves), providing an infusion of enthusiasm when first-year coach David Cassanelli turned to the young players on his bench for a spark.
“Definitely it gets frustrating,” Morse said of the Garnet Valley defense. “You have to keep going, try to stay farther back and find the line.”
The Fords generated a handful of chances. Matt Billbrough, who left the game in the second half with an apparent ankle injury, struck the far post in the first half after a nice move to inside-out a defender. Freshman Aidan Tripler nearly equalized two minutes after Morse’s goal on a chip attempt after he uncovered a yard of space between the defense and the onrushing Tracy, but his effort bounded agonizingly wide.
On the day, Garnet Valley had the better of matters, on the pitch and on the scoreboard. And for another day, they succeeded in the prevailing mission to prove last year’s surge wasn’t an anomaly.
“I hope so,” Ominsky said. “Just keep pushing through. The way we ended last year, we know we can do that again. We’ve just got to keep doing it.”
Also in the Central League:
Radnor 7, Ridley 0 >> Bobby Kirsch and Ryan Peter each tallied braces, Jack Miller paired a goal with an assist and David Azzarano dished a pair of helpers as the Raiders rolled, aided by a pair of penalty kicks.
Upper Darby 0, Lower Merion 0 >> The Royals couldn’t find a shot on goal, but goalkeeper Daniel Lista saved the day with 10 stops, including one on a penalty kick, as the Royals earned the draw.
Penncrest 3, Springfield 0 >> Shea Morgan, Sam Brown and Evan Wildermuth scored for the Lions (3-2, 1-1), and Pat Hughes kept the clean sheet with three saves.
In the Del Val League:
Penn Wood 5, Chichester 2 >> Andrew Nmah recorded a hat trick to go with a helper, and Eric Camara opened the scoring to go with a pair of helpers as the Patriots won their opener.
Matt Dwyer scored both of Chichester’s goals.
Interboro 7, Glen Mills 2 >> Noah Keily recorded a hat trick as the Bucs routed the Battlin’ Bulls.