SPRINGFIELD >> In the early going in the Philadelphia Catholic League season, Roman Catholic has set the pace as the team to beat. La Salle might have a little something to say about that.
The Explorers easily defeated the visiting St Joseph’s Prep 3-0 Tuesday afternoon, improving their record to 7-0, 4-0 in Catholic League play.
“We felt good, we finished well in the first half, would have liked a couple more in the second but keeping a clean sheet is key for us,” La Salle coach Tom McCaffery said.
La Salle converted ball possession and quality looks into goals in the first half. Nicolas Hammel got the scoring started for La Salle in the fourth minute as his back post run off a corner play netted the beautiful cross from Spencer Patton from the set piece.
“We knew yesterday watching St Joe’s play Roman that the crosses were going to be there,” McCaffery said. “The restarts were going to be important to us and we really trained on it yesterday. It was a great ball in by Spencer, he got it to the back post and (Hammel) did a really nice job of making sure to stay on top of the ball and finish.”
Patton would finish the scoring in the first half as he worked a give-and-go with Zach Hogan to ensure a 3-0 halftime lead for the Explorers.
“It was huge for us to get that goal before halftime,” McCaffery said. “You never want to go into the half 2-0 because it gives them a chance at the first goal in the second half. That third goal really set us in a good spot for the second half.”
As the second half rolled, around La Salle kept the pressure on the Hawks. The forwards continued to generate quality looks at the Prep net. Defensively the Explorers were tight.
“St Joe’s has shown they can score with the best of them,” McCaffery said. “We told our guys at halftime to keep going. When you look at the teams in the league you cant back off.”
The Hawks got a couple of nice looks at the La Salle net but were unable to sustain the kind of pressure they needed to score. James Natale held things down for La Salle leading the defensive unit and keeper Brett Werner cleaned up anything the defense didn’t pick up.
While there is still plenty of action to determine how the Catholic League is going to shake out but La Salle is putting itself in the conversations as one of the teams to beat.
“We are in a good spot,” McCaffery said. “We are taking care of the teams that are in front of us. As we move forward that’s all we can do.”