RADNOR >> The Radnor boys soccer team spent Monday’s practice session focusing on one thing in particular: Switching the field in possession, quickly shifting the point of attack.
So when Ryan Peter collected the ball on the right wing Tuesday night, he felt the clock ticking down on the first half, heard forward Cal Hanson calling for the ball. Then Peter did what coach Joe Caruolo had drilled his Raiders to do the day before, whipping a ball into a dangerous area.
Hanson did the rest in that instance.
Radnor’s 3-0 win over Strath Haven was decided by several such moments where the attention to detail by the hosts undid the Panthers.
Whether it was controlling bouncing long balls or connecting simple passes, Radnor’s degree of execution was superior.
Both of Peters’ contributions illustrated that. In the 10th minute, Phil Regan received a pass from the left wing to his right-center mid spot and quickly filtered it back across the grain to the left wing. It took a bounce in front of a Haven defense that was slow to react, then Peter latched on, cut in and unleashed a shot past goalie Dixon Damico for the opener.
“We practiced (switching fields) all day yesterday,” Peter said. “That was the biggest part of our game plan. We executed, and it all worked out tonight.”
With 69 seconds left before half, Peter became the provider, though Hanson’s finish was no less dandy, firing a rocket from the top of the 18 for his first goal of the season.
“Honestly I was facing completely the other way, and I saw Cal through the corner of my eye, and I knew time was running out, so I just turned and passed it,” Peter said. “It worked out perfectly, and Cal finished it perfectly.”
Ben Toomey collects a free kick under duress. Radnor still leads 2-0 pic.twitter.com/JurXQdZeyV
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) September 27, 2016
The edge in personnel was most acutely felt in the midfield. Phil Regan, who like Peter tallied a goal and an assist, helped the Radnor contingent boss that area of the field. Caruolo favors a fair amount of interchange, but whoever he deployed — particularly Peter, Phil Gilbert and Jack Miller — posed a constant threat for Radnor (6-5-1, 4-2 Central League).
“It’s been changing a lot through the year but we just have a great, solid group, and we put together a solid team win,” Peter said. “We all just stick together, do the best we can and we trust our coaches. We just do whatever they ask of us, and it worked out tonight.”
Part of the edge was because of Haven’s injury depletions. The Panthers (4-5, 2-4) were without Jack Borbee and Joe Shiiba, two fresh knocks to complement the long-term absence of last year’s leading scorer, Nate Perrins, with a knee injury sustained in preseason.
That created a younger, less physical team unable to keep up with a stronger Radnor side. And it meant the rudimentary tasks like connecting passes or aggressively attacking balls played long was absent.
“It’s just simple mistakes that we need to clean up for the later games because our season’s on the line now,” winger Josh Mason said. “I think how we played against Conestoga, we should’ve played today and connected more passes and be tougher mentally.”
That Conestoga game, a 3-2 loss, featured an assist from Shiiba, who also scored twice in the win over Upper Darby last week as he’s yo-yoed in and out of the lineup this season. His spark was clearly missing Tuesday.
Haven came closest to scoring in the 34th minute, when a flying Harrison Hotham header off a Justin Snyder corner kick was swiped over the bar by Radnor goalie Ben Toomey to preserve a one-goal edge. Mason carved a chance out of nothing with 10 minutes to play, volleying a long shot off-balance with Toomey straying from his line, but fullback Ben Verbofsky retreated to the line to head away.
Regan’s persistence in the engine room was rewarded in the 46th minute, when Andrew Boujoukos bombed in a free kick. His central defense mate Cal Congleton struck a forceful downward header that Damico turned aside, but Regan cleaned up the scraps on the doorstep.
That just left a half of defending, which the Raiders duly saw out with little incident to gain a vital victory in the Central’s pecking order.
Also in the Central League:
Penncrest 2, Upper Darby 1 >> Shea Morgan scored the game-winning goal in the 69th minute off a feed from Sam Brown as the Lions (8-3, 4-2) picked up the win despite playing down a man for 67 minutes.
Alex Boudazin also scored for Penncrest, which got 13 saves from Pat Hughes.
Mohamed Camara scored for Upper Darby (3-5-1, 1-4-1).
Garnet Valley 2, Marple Newtown 1 >> Matt Moore tallied a full day with a goal and a red card, but Mark Kuhn notched the game-winner in OT for the Jags (9-1, 5-0). Tyler Tracy made eight saves.
Eamonn Clinton scored for Marple, and Josh Starr stopped eight shots.
Conestoga 3, Haverford 1 >> Cam Morse scored for the Fords in the first half, but they couldn’t overcome the Pioneers.
Springfield 2, Ridley 1 >> Justin Eckard and Scott Crockerall scored as the Cougars notched their first league win.
Benjamin Holder grabbed Ridley’s marker.
In the Del Val League:
Penn Wood 1, Academy Park 0 >> Andrew Nmah scored the game-winner with five minutes left to keep Penn Wood (5-2, 4-0) unbeaten in the league. Goodwill Agbaadem collected five saves for the clean sheet.
Ismael Americain made nine saves for Academy Park (4-6, 2-2) before leaving with an injury just before Nmah’s goal.
In the Catholic League:
Archbishop Wood 1, Bonner & Prendergast 0 >> Tony Harper made five saves for the Friars, but RJ Liszewski’s first-half goal made the difference.
In nonleague action:
Episcopal Academy 4, Hun School 0 >> Quinn Dudek scored twice and added an assist, and Ramon Gallegos paired a goal with an assist as the Churchmen (5-3) rolled.