UPPER DUBLIN >> At the outset of Thursday’s match against visiting Hatboro-Horsham, Upper Dublin head soccer coach Derek Priest felt his club could win.
By match’s end, he and his Cardinals were content with a 1-all draw as the Hatters continued to impress in their first go-round in the Suburban One League’s American Conference.
The Cardinals’ Jerry Bardol in the first half and the Hatters’ Danny Harmon, in the second, exchanged goals as the conference’s two top clubs maintained their respective positions in the standings.
“That was just two good clubs battling,” said Hatters head coach Kyle McGrath after the carpet settled. “Playing our second overtime match in three days (Hatboro outlasted Plymouth Whitemarsh in double overtime Tuesday) was a challenge, but our guys battled and fought to the end.”
It was the Cardinals who first sullied the scoresheet after being thoroughly outplayed in the contest’s first 20 minutes.
“We could have easily been down, 3-0, after 20 minutes,” said Priest. “Hatboro really took it to us, and we had to get better in the challenges. They were coming up on us hard, and we needed to be looking up and making faster decisions.”
Despite the Hatters’ pressure, it was Upper Dublin (7-0-1, 5-0-1 conference) that took the lead when Bardol, after a long run, got past Hatters keeper Stephen Doney and slipped a shot past a diving Hatters (6-1-2, 4-0-2) defender to put the home team on the scoreboard.
The match stayed that way until early in the second, when the Hatters’ Harmon was sent in by a teammate and got his shot past a sliding Cardinals goaltender to even the match.
“All I remember was the ball coming to my feet at the 50 (yard line) and having a lot of space,” Harmon said.
That goal held up, although both sides had good opportunities to win in the closing minutes of regulation and especially in overtime.
In fact, the Cardinals nearly won it late in the second overtime when Doney fought off a header off a Cardinals corner, then watched helplessly as Bardol’s rebound strike caromed off the football goalpost above the net.
By match’s end, both sides were spent, and both sides were praising their opponents.
“Having Hatboro in our conference is a good thing for the conference,” Priest said, “Getting another team in here that has a good chance of going to the district playoffs can only make our conference better.
“Sometimes, I think, our conference has a tendency to be overlooked.”
“I think we were a little bit better today,” McGrath said, “but we didn’t do a good enough job finishing our chances.
“But Upper Dublin is a strong team, and we look forward to playing them again.”
“Our goal, since we lost our first game, was to go the rest of the season without losing again,” Harmon added. “And we’ve been playing pretty well.”
Top Photo: Upper Dublin’s Jerry Bardol beats Hatboro-Horsham’s Colin Bateman on a head ball during their game on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)