GRATERFORD >> The role of underdog and favorite doesn’t normally change multiple times in a single game.
Then again, anything seemed possible in Wednesday afternoon’s boys soccer game between Owen J. Roberts and Perkiomen Valley.
Through 35 minutes, the Wildcats and Vikings’ matchup seemed entirely run of the mill with favored OJR entirely deserving of its one-goal advantage.
But an injury to sophomore Max Chamorro became a rallying cry for Perkiomen Valley, which surprisingly hit for three goals in a six-minute span to build a 3-1 lead only to see Owen J. Roberts find its own synonymous rallying cry when goalkeeper Tyler Stonebraker went down.
The Wildcats stormed back to level the match, which is where the score remained after 100 minutes as OJR and Perkiomen Valley finished in a 3-3 draw in Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division play.
Junior Graham Pugh brought the Wildcats back with goals in the 58th and 67th minutes, cancelling out Perk Valley’s wild stretch that saw Matt McCabe score two minutes until halftime before Mike Weir converted a penalty kick in the 43rd minute, and a minute later Adam Styer put PV up 3-1.
Andrew Siana scored OJR’s opening goal in the 27th minute.
Perk Valley (2-2-2 PAC Liberty, 6-4-2 overall) went from the underdog, to favorite up 3-1, to underdog again as they absorbed OJR pressure late in the second half, only to create the best chances in overtime.
“I think it shows that we can hang with anyone,” junior midfielder Weir said. “Coming into the season people may have been thinking, ‘Oh, Perk Valley, they’re going to roll over,’ especially after last season. But you look at our record now, we’re 6-4-2 and we can hang with anyone.”
They more than hung with OJR (4-1-1 PAC Liberty, 7-2-3), last year’s PAC finalist. It may not have been the result the Wildcats were expecting, but they were able to take heart after going down two goals.
“That was the first (deficit) we came back from,” Pugh said. “We did it for our players – when our keeper (Stonebraker) went down, we wanted to do it for him.”
Stonebraker suffered a broken collarbone in a collision with teammate Brandon Ott on a high ball just inside the 18.
Turning point >> The game turned on a difficult moment when sophomore Chamorro went down with a leg injury that was later revealed to be a broken femur. His teammates honored him with a scoring barrage that began right after the injury timeout.
Weir switched fields to Brian Love on the right who sent an early cross that was hit into the net by sophomore McCabe two minutes before the break. The Vikings kept it up into the second half when Ryan Dao earned a penalty, which was handled by Weir (his second PK in as many games), and Styer hit home a pass from Dao.
“It felt crazy. We didn’t really expect to come at them with such attacking power,” McCabe said. “We’re not known for our offense. To score two goals right off the bat in the second half, especially against Owen J., one of the best teams, it was exciting.”
Stranger things >> Wednesday’s performance wasn’t indicative of the usual Vikings’ game, who have gained traction through their defense. Keeper Andrew Daubenspeck and the back line of Chris Fiore, Jake Rogers, Brian Love and AJ Hansen have six shutouts.
“At the start of the season I think people wrote us off. But when we got the win over Boyertown, it made people hold on,” Weir said. “Our team has a bunch of really good individual athletes who have come together. We might not have a superstar player who is dribbling through everybody or scoring two goals a game but we hold in there on D and we’re a tough team.”
On target >> A lineup as potent as Owen J. Roberts, which returned the bulk of its starting XI from last year, has proven capable of finding the net. On Wednesday it was Pugh’s turn.
“It’s been a team effort all year. I haven’t been scoring all the goals,” Pugh said. “My teammates, Brandon (Ott), Andrew Siana, we’ve been splitting goals all over the place. It was a good game all-around.”
As a preseason favorite to reclaim the PAC championship, the Wildcats have been getting every team’s best shot, just like on Wednesday.
“For our program to be as good as it’s been over the past few years we’ve had a target on our back,” Pugh said. “Every time we go out to play teams are coming out and want to beat us. Everyone wants to beat Owen J.”
“They really expect us to come out and hit them and multiple times we’ve had,” Ott said. “But we have a tendency to let teams into the game. But we came back. We always come back. I guess we like to face adversity. It’s a good result coming back from 3-1 down. We expect to lessen those spots of lackadaisical play.”
NOTES >> Daubenspeck (11 saves) saved PV from going to 2-0 in the first half with a stunning save of a Pugh rip that he tipped off the bar and out for a corner. He was out of the game for the equalizer after going down following a collision with OJR’s Austin Koury. … Cory Wright stepped in at goalkeeper after Stonebraker went down. The two combined for six saves.
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