WORCESTER >> Few things in soccer can be as back-breaking as a goal scored against the run of play.
For 80 minutes on Monday afternoon, Methacton’s boys soccer team put a nearly unending wave of pressure on Lansdale Catholic. The Warriors generated opportunity after opportunity while the Crusaders were left to try and not wilt under the pressure.
While it looked and felt like Methacton dominated, it did not win. That’s because LC got one of those back-breakers and made it hold up for an important nonleague win, 1-0 on the road.
“Our defense and midfield held together so strong,” Lansdale Catholic senior goalkeeper Jack Kane said. “It was a great collective effort. Our back line has been really strong throughout the year and today they really held it together and our center mids kept it together, found feet and It was just really well done all around.”
Kane was huge for his team, making six saves but also all those countless other things keepers do that don’t go in a scorebook. Whether it was rising to rip a ball out of the air with a Methacton forward’s forehead right there, yelling instructions to his defenders or being bold enough to jump into a maelstrom of guys in the box, Kane answered every bell.
Of course, any good keeper will say he’s only as good as his back line and Monday, LC’s backs made Kane’s job easier than it could have been. Most of Methacton’s shots came either from long distance, or a tough angle which let the keeper read the ball and take the right spot in front of goal.
Meanwhile, the Warriors had to watch chance after chance evaporate and with it, their three-match winning streak.
“That’s the story of my season,” Methacton coach John Smeykal said. “We teach possession and we possessed it and totally controlled the game. We did whatever we wanted all throughout the field but couldn’t get a shot on them.”
LC didn’t have many chances, but it cashed in on the one that mattered. A short ball out of the back allowed midfielder Matt Noti to step to the Methacton center back on the ball and win a tackle deep in the Warriors’ final third.
The ball popped past the tackle and backward where LC forward Josh Yurastis pounced, got into open space and buried the chance with 11:28 left in the first half.
“They were linking together a lot of passes and we were struggling in the middle but once we had a couple people drop in, we had some chances,” Yurastis said. “Matt Noti stuck him and the ball deflected into space, so luckily we had a chance and finished. Honestly, I didn’t know where I was on that, I was lucky to be onside.”
Kane, his defenders and his midfielders did their share of work to keep Methacton out of the net, but the Warriors hurt themselves a bit too. Methacton skied at least five good chances over the top of the net.
“Their confidence, we just don’t have it right now,” Smeykal said. “There’s probably one or two wanting to take one or two too many touches and not keep it simple and be creative in the attacking third.”
Methacton’s midfield was energetic and active all match with Trevor Taylor, Eric Kihle, Trevor Rambo and Aiden O’Leary all winning tackles and putting the ball in dangerous spaces. No sooner did a Crusader put a foot to the ball then at least one Methacton player was right on him, trying to win it back.
“They put a lot of pressure on us and they moved the ball really well,” LC coach Joe Wilson said. “We talked about giving them their space but also controlling our space and trying to get them to turnover. We tried to get them out to cause turnovers and we did a great job in the second half to get them out wide.”
In the second half, the Warriors were awarded a free kick just outside the right side of the LC box. The initial service was punched out by Kane and a second ball booted well clear by one of his defenders. Another instance saw the keeper at nearly the edge of the box, turning his body enough to block a Max Jones shot.
Methacton returns to action Wednesday against Boyertown and Smeykal said Tuesday’s practice will likely focus a lot on finishing and being creative in the box.
Despite facing unrelenting pressure all game, having everything but the water cooler thrown at them and clinging to a one-goal lead, Lansdale Catholic held firm on Monday. With a massive PCL game against defending champion Roman Catholic on Tuesday, it was just the performance the Crusaders needed.
“Our two center backs, Ryan Crosby and Dom Melchiorre are super strong back there, they’re always on it,” Kane said. “Our left back, Will Rex is talking well, he’s a leader and a captain and Kyle (Kane) on the right, my little brother, he’s been doing well. It’s collective.”
Lansdale Catholic 1, Methacton 0
Lansdale Catholic 1 0 – 1
Methacton 0 0 – 0
Goals: LC – Josh Yurastis (Matt Noti) 28’. Shots: LC- 1, M- 6. Corners: LC- 3, M – 1. Saves: LC – Jack Kane 6.