NORTHAMPTON – In Tuesday’s Suburban One matchup with Truman, Council Rock South head coach Alan Nicholl was not happy with the way his team was playing in the waning moments of the first half.
So he decided on a bold move, inserting freshman goalkeeper Kevin McNamee in between the pipes in place of senior Nolan Gaudet, a 2-year varsity veteran.
“Coming off of two losses last week, I think it was important to come out here and get the win,” said Nicholl. “We scored a couple girls early so my fear was that the players would think, ‘this one’s in the bag.’”
“We still had 60 or 70 minutes on the clock.”
At halftime, Nicholl told his players he was inserting McNamee into the game, challenging the Golden Hawks to play with passion in the second half.
“Any opportunity I have to get a freshman on the field, particularly as a goalkeeper – it’s never happened before,” added Nicholl “We were up two-nil at the time so I thought I felt we were comfortable enough where I could get him some minutes and work on his development.”
“I kept yelling, ‘let’s stay professional; let’s keep the focus,’ and they did a really good job of that in the second half.
Gaudet and McNamee did a nice job, helping South record its second shutout of the season (the Hawks blanked Harriton to start the 2016 campaign).
But it was senior midfielder Ethan Benedict, who created much of the offense in this game. Just about every goal in this game was tallied on a cross from the right side, which just happens to be Benedict’s station on the pitch.
“He’s very, very quick,” said Nicholl. “He puts defenses under pressure,” “He causes defenders to make decisions very, very quickly because he’s that style of player.”
“He also started for us as a freshman and he’s now four years in. You’re not only expecting that explosiveness but also that experience, the maturity. He’s team captain so the boys look up to him.”
After setting up junior Anthony Ritts in the sixth minute of play, Benedict poked a ball home that was left lying in the crease by classmate Kevin Bowers for a quick 2-0 lead.
“That’s why I like playing on the wing so much,” said Benedict. “Sometimes it’s not about you; it’s about setting up the other players on the field
“That’s what I think is so neat about the outside wing position – just getting the opportunity to go out there and make things happen for my teammates.”
In the second half, Benedict connected with junior Pat Wilczynski on a set piece with the 11th-grader getting a knee into a corner kick from the senior captain in the 47th minute of play.
“Pat’s a really creative player,” said Benedict. “He pulls stuff like that off out of nowhere, sometimes.”
Try as they might, the Tigers found it hard to penetrate the Hawks defense in the second half. There were several occasions after the break where either junior Ilyas Nashid or classmate Badr Fask tried to break through CR South’s back line, only to get sealed off by one or more defenders. Frustrated, Fask took down a Hawks attacker streaking down the flank, and was subsequently given a 5-minute yellow card infraction.
“I think (coach) was trying to get Kevin some good experience and today was a good opportunity, having possession for most of the time”
“I think (Nicholl) really trusts our back line to keep it locked down in those scenarios.”
For Truman, the Tigers need some time to regroup. After a win in its season opener over Philadelphia Public League rival George Washington, Truman has now lost by identical scores to both Rock North and Rock South to fall to 1-2 on the season.
“We’re inexperienced and a lot of the players were just out of breath, said senior Rafael Medina. “We didn’t attack the ball or shoot to the flanks – that’s one of our biggest problems right now.
“We just have to do what our coaches tell us to do because right now you don’t see a lot of us doing that right now but you will in the next game.”
The Tigers return to the pitch Thursday, Sept. 15 at Bensalem then face Coatesville (9/17), New Hope-Solebury (9/19)and Abington (9/20) before coming home to face Neshaminy Sept. 22.
The Golden Hawks host Archbishop Wood Thursday, Sept. 15 afternoon before traveling to Unionville Sept. 17 for a Saturday morning matchup.
Contact Steve Sherman at ssherman@21st-Centurymedia.com or @BucksLocalSport on Twitter
Council Rock South 5, Harry S Truman 0
(Sept. 13 at CR South)
TRUMAN 0 0 – 0
CR SOUTH 2 3 – 5
FIRST-HALF GOALS: Anthony Ritts (CRS) from Ethan Benedict, 6th minute; Benedict (CRS) from Kevin Bowers, 9th minute.
SECOND-HALF GOALS: Pat Wilczynski (CRS) from Benedict, 47th minute; Colby Brown (CRS) 64th minute; own goal (CRS) 70th minute.
SHOTS: Truman 5, CR South 19
SAVES: Dawson Black (HST) 1, Mert Avci (HST) 10; Nolan Gaudet (CRS) 1, Kevin McNamee 1.
RECORDS: Truman (1-2, 0-2 SOL); Council Rock South (3-2, 1-2 SOL)