LANGHORNE – In soccer, a thin line usually exists between victory and defeat. Players often battle through 80 minutes of non-stop action with the ultimate feeling of agony or ecstasy hanging on a single goal. A successful season depends upon how well a team handles the extremes.
Probably no one recognizes this soccer truism as well as the Neshaminy boys team. As outlined by senior Nick Lindsey, the Redskins set rather high goals coming into the 2016 campaign. “Our goal was definitely to make it to the playoffs and to win the league.”
The road to postseason gold got off to a rocky start for Neshaminy as they lost three of their first seven games. Numbered among the losses was a 2-1 heartbreaker to archrival Pennsbury, a game in which the Redskins fell behind by two goals only to battle back and narrow the margin to one on a tally by Dan Grindrod.
After readjusting their offensive strategy to allow for more firepower upfront, coach Tom Foley’s charges then went on a tear, winning nine of their next 10 games. In that stretch, they outscored their opponents by a 34-13 margin.
Nick attributes the turnaround to the team’s mental stamina. “We’re extremely hardworking. We’ll never give up. We’ll play well as a team. We might get behind early, but we always come back and make it a game.”
Two games in the 10-game stretch certainly validate Nick’s team appraisal. On Oct. 10, Neshaminy had a rematch with the league leading Pennsbury Falcons. Tied 1-1 at half the Skins roared out behind by goals by Jack McCourt and Dan Grindrod to take a lead they would never relinquish.
The 3-2 victory was crucial for Neshaminy’s playoff aspirations. In Nick’s estimation, “That game was extremely important. They are obviously our rival and we want to beat them every time. We needed to beat them to get a higher power ranking. The key to the game was teamwork. We kept working as a team and played really hard.”
The victory not only upped Neshaminy’s power rating but it set up a shot at the new league leader, Council Rock North on Oct. 14. The winner of this match was definitely in line for the National Division championship. An early penalty shot by the Indians’ Jon Pugh in the eighth minute proved the only tally of the game.
Though the 1-0 score spelled defeat for the Redskins, it only momentarily dampened their spirits. “We felt upset for the first day but after that we set our minds on the next game and tried to get that win. We lost to North so we didn’t win the league but now our goal is to make districts and make states.”
Neshaminy took an important step toward the playoffs when they beat Harry Truman four days later. “These last two games are really important. Our coach says we have to finish strong and head into playoffs on a high note.”
The Skins dominated the contest and took a 3-0 victory behind goals by Jon Albarran, Dylan McDonald and Dan Grindrod. The win helped Neshaminy maintain a number six District 1 power rating, good enough to assure a first round bye in the upcoming districts. “We want to get as high a seed as we can. If we get a bye we are going to continue to practice hard every day to stay on our game.”
Nick had an extra incentive to go all out against Truman. He wanted to score on Senior Night. “I usually play mid and am responsible for getting the ball up the field and distributing the ball to the strikers. Against Truman I was a striker so I was just trying to score. My coach wanted to see me get a goal for Senior Night. The whole team wanted me to score in my last home game but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Though scoring on Senior Night eluded Nick he should have ample opportunity to find the back of the enemy’s net in the coming weeks. Neshaminy is certainly prepped for a long playoff run.