ROYERSFORD >> Very little occurred in slow motion of Tuesday’s District 1-AAAA boys soccer playoff game between Kennett and host Spring-Ford.
Except the most important moment.
“A lot of pressure,” Kennett junior Austin Eveland said. “I was definitely thinking of it in the back of the mind. Yeah, it was in slow motion.”
Time stood still momentarily for the central midfielder as he buried the game-winning goal on a rebound of freshman Daniel Kunzig’s blast eight minutes into overtime to send No. 21 Kennett to a 2-1 OT victory over Spring-Ford and into the second round.
“It’s a shock. I love it,” Eveland said. “We started off the season not too well but just working with the team we’ve been able to develop into a really good group. I think we can go far.”
Kunzig set up the Blue Demons’ opening score for Nicholas Brison in the final minute of the first half which nullified Nate Alban’s opening goal for Spring-Ford.
Kennett (11-6-2), under coaching icon Mike Barr, who led previously led Strath Haven to great heights and was inducted into the Pennsylvania State Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2015, advances to face No. 5 North Penn on Thursday.
Spring-Ford’s season comes to a disappointing end after showing many promising signs under first-year head coach Brent Kissel. The Rams won the Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division and spent much of the league season undefeated, but lost twice in a row to eventual league champion Boyertown and received a first-round exit in districts.
Allan the hero on big free kick. Under 4, 1-1 pic.twitter.com/TtL5GkM8Lo
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) October 26, 2016
“We’ve had struggles in the postseason, Spring-Ford has,” Kissel said. “We’ve only won one district game so it’s been difficult for us to get these wins against non-league teams. I view the season as a success for sure. No one expected us to be where we were in the Liberty Division and have 12 wins. It’s not the way we wanted to end it but I’m proud of my guys and how they played.”
Spring-Ford’s senior group included goalkeeper Kyle Allan, Mike Dampf, Tyler Holms, Michael Hyduke, David Keller, Drew Rheaume, Nick Murphy, Chase Parr, Christian Djilo and Erick Rodriguez.
The game was largely even throughout and well played with Kennett’s possession-oriented style while the Rams were the more direct team as it looked for opportunities for forward Hyduke. Play ran through talented midfielders Ronnie Minges for Spring-Ford and Eveland for Kennett.
Minges sent a looping cross to the far post for Alban for the opening goal at the 24:29 mark of the first half. Spring-Ford appeared on its way to a halftime lead but Kunzig, playing on the right, broke on a quick counter and played in Brison, who shot across goal for the equalizer.
The second half was back and forth the best chances coming on a give-and-go header from Minges that was saved by Moises Almanza Romero (seven saves) and a near own goal for Kennett through Alban and Hyduke’s pressure. The Blue Demons nearly won it on Brison’s indirect free kick that forced Allan into a superb save.
“I think we had our share of chances, we just couldn’t finish in the run of play,” Kissel said. “We didn’t finish on set pieces, corners, which have been our bread and butter throughout the season. Our guys were pressing hard. Both their goals came on fast counters that they got us on. They were able to capitalize on those chances.”
Impressive freshmen Kunzig – “Wait for him senior year,” said Eveland – sent Kennett home winners with a quick break down the right toward the end line and hit a sharp shot saved by Allan (three saves). But the ball fell centrally for on-rushing Eveland and he struck it into the open goal.
Not bad for a team that started 2-2-2 this season and missed the district playoffs a year ago.
“The end of the season we started winning some games in a row and our chemistry went up,” Kunzig said.