DOYLESTOWN >> When the first set of District 1 boys soccer power rankings dropped at the start of the week, the Central Bucks West players felt like their No. 15 spot was about right.
But they weren’t satisfied with staying at that spot. Moving up would require a statement win of sorts, a sign both to the Bucks themselves and anyone on the outside that they’re better than their No. 15 seeding.
CB West got that win Wednesday night, topping North Penn 1-0 in a tense, high-tempo match pitting two excellent teams against each other.
“This is huge,” West senior right back Dominick Bianchini said. “It gives us so much confidence. Beating somebody we’d never been able to beat gives us relief and pushes us to beat the other teams like (CB) South and East coming up.”
The result was huge for West for several reasons. Wednesday’s victory marked the Bucks’ first triumph over the Knights in at least five seasons. Some of those losses were routs, others agonizingly close, but North Penn was always the team leaving with the win.
Continuing with that, now the Bucks don’t have to worry about the spectre of some unbeatable North Penn juggernaut should their paths cross again in the postseason. Wednesday’s match felt like a postseason game and it should prove invaluable for the numerous younger guys the Bucks have been relying on this season.
Bianchini provided the moment of magic on Wednesday, a brilliant free kick from about 35 yards out in the first half that somehow held up.
“When I hit it, I thought ‘this is going in’, it was magical, I hit this perfect knuckleball and it was going to the top right corner,” Bianchini said. “I just hit it and just hoped it went in. When I hit it, it was perfect.”
If that didn’t affirm it was West’s night, then North Penn’s inability to put away on of its dozen chances was. The Knights were excellent in the second half, pinging the ball around with poise but could not get a ball past sophomore West keeper Dylan Smith.
Smith made eight saves, including a huge stop on Nick Terchek at the first half buzzer and his most important, a tip save after Andres Maldonado hit the crossbar seven minutes into the second half.
“We haven’t beaten them since our coaches have been here, they came in with a really good record, they’re a huge team, a powerhouse and they contested last year for states,” Smith said. “That’s a huge win for us. It was a lot of hard work throughout the field. We hadn’t had as many special moments as we would have liked but Dom came up huge for us.”
West coach Stefen Szygiel has restricted his squad after graduating a number of impact seniors from last year. Bianchini was moved to defense after playing at forward in previous seasons, while sophomores and juniors permeate the starting lineup.
Smith said a trait of his team all season has been its ability to press hard all game. Wednesday, that was vital in putting pressure on North Penn’s outside backs and wide midfielders, taking away some angles of attack. Bianchini said that was something the Bucks felt was needed after the teams’ first meeting this season.
“They’re all great, a lot of them are the younger guys so I’m pretty close with them,” Smith said. “They’re willing to put their body on the line for the team as they showed a couple times throughout the game so there’s no reason I shouldn’t be doing the same. That’s a really good relationship to have with guys like that, guys you want to play for.”
The Suburban One League Continental Conference is so good that no result can be called an upset and Wednesday’s match was one very good team beating another very good team.
CB West’s goal is to keep moving up the district power rankings ladder. They’ll do so with a much-needed win to their credit.
“I think it’s a good feeling and shows them what it’s going to be like,” Bianchini said. “Now they don’t have that stigma of working and never beating North Penn. Now that we finally did it, I think it’s going to give us a confidence boost.”