LOWER POTTSGROVE >> Ever the showman.
Germann Larmond wasn’t about to let the Pottsgrove boys soccer team’s home finale go without putting on a performance for the home fans.
“For some reason, I feel when we’re here at home, this atmosphere, we get very comfortable,” the Falcons senior forward said. “I think we got started very early and just kept the ball rolling.”
Larmond made the Falcons’ faithful roar once in each half while the Pottsgrove defense put on an organized display to turn away Interboro, 2-0, in a District 1-AAA quarterfinal Thursday night at Pottsgrove.
Larmond, who had his way down the right side for much of the night, scored in the ninth minute as he cut centrally on to his favored left foot and struck a far-post shot into the side-netting for the early lead before he sealed the win in the final minute with an easy score thanks to a layoff from Nate Yuchimiuk when Brian Interiano passed out of pressure as the Bucs’ chased the game late.
No. 4 seed Pottsgrove (15-5-1), the reigning District 1-AA champion, advances to face No. 1 seed Holy Ghost Prep – a 3-1 winner over Marple Newtown Thursday – in a semifinal that doubles as a PIAA tournament qualifier.
Interboro concluded its season 10-8-1, but not without putting on a display that tested the Falcons.
“We fell off toward the end of the season which hurt us coming in, but it didn’t show today,” head coach Nick Dostellio said. “They came out and fought hard and I’m very proud of them. They fought hard for 80 minutes and it was one of those games where it wasn’t meant for us.”
Interboro wasn’t without scoring chances thanks to senior Diego Lopez and junior Guillermo Ramirez. Lopez forced Pottsgrove goalkeeper Liam Abdalla into a difficult low save midway through the first half and chipped wide on a breakaway that looked certain to be the leveler.
Ramirez had Interboro’s closest moment early in the second half when he spun from his back to goal and struck a left-footed shot that hit the crossbar in the 43rd minute.
“That ball off the crossbar, nine times out of 10 that’s a goal. (Ramirez) has done a great job all year. Diego missing that breakaway in the first half, so we had our opportunities,” Dostellio said.
They weren’t so plentiful though thanks for the man-marking display Tyler Rolando did on Lopez.
“We were anticipating him to be that good,” Larmond said. “Tyler is probably our best defender and he gave Tyler a run for his money. He’s a brilliant player.”
Rolando wasn’t alone as the back line of Nik Curnew, Nick Makoid and Pat O’Brien were up to the task while getting support from midfielders Will Kaiser, Mike Sereny and Jacobs Spotts.
“I feel confident in the four back there with me and I know that when we communicate there’s not much that’s going to get past us,” senior Curnew said. “With the help of our midfield getting back, I don’t see anybody scoring on us.”
The Falcons got in a handful of blocks that forced Abdalla into just two saves while Interboro keeper Brandon Weldon made six.
Pottsgrove has struggled aerially in past seasons, but the Falcons owned the air game Thursday, the Bucs never really threatening on set pieces.
“There’s times in the season where we’ve struggled with that a little bit so we stress it at practice and work on it more. I think we’ve definitely gotten better,” Curnew said.
The Falcons dodged Bucs’ center back Dom Scrivano’s headed effort with under five minutes to play before Larmond gave the crowd one last outburst with 30 seconds to play.
Yuchimiuk to Larmond for the dagger! pic.twitter.com/VgtrZ30qND
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) October 28, 2016
Showtime >> Larmond, the younger brother of past Pottsgrove standout and current West Virginia sophomore forward Rushawn Larmond, isn’t just about performing on the field either.
He’s a budding hip hop artist, too, with his best friends forming the group ‘NGP’ – Never Gettin’ Played – they have an album coming Nov. 1, on big bro’s birthday.
“Coming Tuesday, it’s my brother’s birthday. I feel like it’s a nice present for him,” Larmond said. “Me and my best friends, we’ve been doing it for a year now. We’re coming big time.”
Get Prep-ped >> Pottsgrove gets a rematch with Holy Ghost Prep, the team they defeated to win the 1-AA championship a year ago.
“Last year, that was a scrap,” Curnew said. “I think we have more weapons this year, our defense is more experienced so I think we’re ready.”
The game is set for Nov. 2 in the afternoon at Holy Ghost Prep with the district moving away from neutral sites for the semifinal games.
Buc-king the trend >> Interboro acquitted itself well in its first year in Class AAA.
“Our two playoff games in the past five years, we’ve gotten pretty blown out so it was good to come here and fight hard. Unfortunately the result wasn’t for us but I’m extremely proud,” Dostellio said.
Interboro will graduate Lopez, Weldon and fellow seniors Josh Little, Brian Barker, Vinny Mormando, Scotty Menendorp, Brendan Shanahan and Joey Pitts.
“We’ll be young next year,” Dostellio said. “I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got some guys coming up. It may be a rebuilding year but we have some pieces in between that can make something happen.”