UPPER DUBLIN >> Taking penalty kicks is a fluid situation for the Upper Dublin boys soccer team.
“What we do is whoever’s feeling the most confident takes the PK,” Cardinals senior forward Anthony Wisdo said. “And I was feeling confident there cause I got fouled so that’s why I took the PK.”
Converting from the spot, however, was a bit more cut-and-dry Tuesday night in UD’s District 1-AAAA first round contest with visiting Penncrest.
Taken down in the box trying to chase down a ball lofted towards the goal late in the first half, Wisdo proceeded to step up and calmly converted the penalty at 5:18 – blasting a shot into the right side of the net as Keiran Wilmot guessed the opposite way.
“Every player should finish from 12 yards out,” Wisdo said.
After a back-and-forth first half, the goal tipped control of the match to Upper Dublin that it carried over in the final 40 minutes. A big save from Jason Stone kept the Cardinals ahead while Wisdo had a hand in two more goals – collecting an assist before scoring a second – as ninth-seeded UD advanced with a 3-0 win over the No. 24 Lions.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 26, 2016
“They’re a very good team. They have a very good league. I think that’s why they were such a low seed,” Wisdo said. “But the first half I think we came out a little edgy. We were very scared, we were anxious. But I think in the second half after the PK we came out of the first half 1-0, we calmed down, played the soccer that we know we can play and I think we out-possessed them.”
Max Adams also added a goal for Upper Dublin (15-2-2), which reaches the second round of districts for a second straight year. The Suburban One League American Conference champion visits No. 8 Central Bucks East Thursday. CB East won last year’s PIAA title and the past two District 1 championships in Class AAA, which was the biggest until the PIAA went to four classes for soccer this season.
“To have a chance we’re going to have to play like we did in the second half,” Upper Dublin Derek Priest. “Look after the ball well. And then obviously take our chances. Again, scoring three is nice, but we had chances there that we need to make sure we put them away if we do get any chances.”
Penncrest, the lowest seed in the 4A field, was back in the postseason for the first time since 2014 when West Chester East upset the Lions in the AAA opening round.
“We had a school-record team two seasons ago, then we had a five win team last year and to bounce back with an 11-win, an 11-6-1 record this year with only losing five seniors was great,” Penncrest coach Paul Norris said. “They were just a really resilient bunch. Just a shame to see it end.”
The Lions put plenty of pressure on the UD defense in the first half, including Shea Morgan heading a free kick off the crossbar – but found themselves down 1-0 at the break due to a miscue in the box.
“We had several great opportunities and they were just off the mark,” Norris said. “We had them on their heels and we had just that one mental mistake in the box and they get that penalty shot. That’s the sadness and the beauty of the game. It’s just one little thing leads to something else that leads to something else (that) leads to something else and then you get a crazy outcome.”
The Lions had a great opportunity to level the game early in the second half when Morgan got alone behind the Cardinals backline, but Stone reached out and denied the shot.
“He’s been doing that all season for us in those big games. He’s been absolutely outstanding,” said Priest of Stone.
Shortly after, Upper Dublin made it 2-0 on a free kick taken by Wisdo. The senior sent a ball into the box towards a group or Cardinals charging towards the right post and Adams put a head on it and sent it into the net at 32:23.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) October 26, 2016
“Max got injured the play before and he was limping and I was like ‘Come on man, get up. Get yourself a goal,’” Wisdo said. “He was on the back post, I usually aim for Adams and (Jake) Chinn and they were there, Adams put it in.”
Upper Dublin stayed aggressive and came achingly close to a third goal before Wisdo did when he earned his brace. Jerry Bardol’s shot knocked away from the goal line by a Penncrest defender. Jose Palomeque was 1-on-1 with Wilmot after a pass from Bardol but Wilmot got a hand on Palomeque’s shot and the ball slid just wide of the left post. A Wisdo corner kick to the far post was headed away.
“That’s the way we always play and I think we have a solid defense so I have faith in them even in playoff games,” Priest said. “Rather than sit back and give them the ball, I’d rather us keep pressing.”
Penncrest had chances to pull back within a goal on corners, but came up empty and Wisdo made it 3-0 UD with 4:39 when Bardol found him in the middle for a low shot past Wilmot.
“Jerry’s a very unselfish player,” Wisdo said. “He goes out there to play to win and I really appreciate that because you don’t always have those people. You’ve got people who always want to score the winning goals, score the final goal and Jerry’s a very unselfish player. He doesn’t mind setting me up for goals.”
Adams thought he netted the opening goal on a header off a free kick, but Adam was ruled offside. Still scoreless in the first half, Wisdo crossed to an open Josh Saitsky in the box, but Saitsky’s volleyball went over the cross bar.