HORSHAM >> Joe Larouche didn’t know his shot in overtime was going to go in.
“My vision was blocked by the defender and the ball,” he said.
But once he saw his shot hit off the crossbar and bounce straight down, he knew there was a pretty good chance.
And when it bounced into the net, Hatboro-Horsham’s boys soccer team had a 3-2 victory over Plymouth Whitemarsh and a leg up on its potential competitors in the Hatters’ new home in the Suburban One League’s American Conference.
“Beating PW and Wissahickon, who have been two of the top teams in this conference over the last few years, is a good sign,” said Hatters head coach Kyle McGrath. “We’re trying to establish ourselves in this new conference, so beating those two programs kind of shows us where we are.”
The Hatters didn’t make it easy on themselves.
PW grabbed the lead in the match’s first 2:00 on a goal by Andrew Stricklin.
And while the Hatters knotted things up on Colin Bateman’s penalty kick some five minutes later, they would never own the lead until Larouche ripped one in off the post early in the second OT.
“Joe gets a lot of chances,” McGrath said. “And if you’re going to draw up a game-winner, that’s what you want it to look like.”
Even at a goal apiece at the break, the Colonials again took the lead when Brandon Cohen batted in a crossing pass from Dillon Johnson in the second half, and the Hatters had to re-start the chase.
The chase paid off when Larouche got the match even with a goal that slid past Colonials keeper Patrick Corpus about two-thirds of the way through the second half.
From there on, the two sides may as well have been in overtime, as it became obvious the next goal was going to be the match-decider.
After a relatively calm first overtime, the Hatters got busy, using a tact that had worked so well for them earlier this season when they had to come back three times to defeat Upper Moreland.
“In that match we all stayed positive,” Larouche said. “After each goal scored against us, we told ourselves we were going to come back, we didn’t get down. We just kept fighting”
So in the second OT, when the ball came to Larouche, about 25 yards from net, in the middle of the pitch, he knew what he was going to do.
He just couldn’t see what he had done.
“I was actually blinded by the ball,” he said with a wide smile. “Finally, when the defender cleared and I saw the ball go off the crossbar …”
“It was good that we battled back,” McGrath said. “Being in this conference for the first time, we’re trying to make a name for ourselves.
“So this was a big win for us.”