YARDLEY – After allowing Central Bucks West to knot the score at 2-all midway through the first period of its District 1 Class 4A second-round matchup, Pennsbury looked like it was going to go into halftime holding the slimmest of margins at 3-2.
Falcons midfielder Obi Onuoha would have none of that, however. The 11th-grader for Pennsbury (16-3) – one of three Falcons to score twice in the contest – took a feed from senior Zach LoBasso in the closing seconds of the period, deked right and poked the ball into the far left side of the net to send Pennsbury into the intermission with a 2-goal edge.
On the strength of two goals apiece from Onuoha, LoBasso and senior John Griffin, the fourth-seeded Falcons cruised to a 7-2 triumph over 13th-seeded CB West Thursday afternoon (Oct. 27) in the rain at Macclesfield.
“It’s playoffs,” exclaimed Pennsbury head coach Tom Stoddart.
“Everyone wants a piece of the action and obviously, my attacking big three just had a huge day today.”
The Falcons advance to face No. 5 North Penn in a District 1 quarterfinal slated for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Pennsbury. The winner of the quarterfinal earns a berth in states.
For the Bucks – who topped Haverford 2-1 to reach the Round of 16, their season ends at 10-8-2.
“We just ran out of gas,” said CB West head coach Stefan Szygiel. “We struggled to contain their forwards and we knew that was going to be the matchup – our defenders versus their front four.
“They just had too much firepower and they had one of those days – they were just finishing.
“We struggled to pick up the runs – anytime you get that many goals hung on you, obviously, you had a rough day.”
The Falcons went up early in this one on goals by Griffin and LoBasso in the first eight minutes. The Bucks answered with goals by senior Nick Doyle and sophomore Luke Fehrman, who scored less than six minutes apart in the first period. But LoBasso put Pennsbury back on top with a goal in the 26th minute then put a ball through to Onuoha in the final minute of the first half.
The goal by Onuoha – who also scored in the second half – proved to be a game-changer.
“I thought it was big,” said Onuoha. “We always like to find each other and I thought it changed the momentum of the game – gave us more control.”
The higher seed, the Falcons were the host team. And Pennsbury chose to open the tournament on the turf at Macclesfield in Yardley. That was just fine with the Falcons.
“Most of us grew up playing on this field at YMS (Yardley-Makefield Soccer) so this is home for us,” said Onuoha, a former midfielder for YMS Fusion. “We’re just used to playing here, we feel comfortable and I think it showed in the result.”
The Falcons’ Big Three combined on six of the seven goals by Pennsbury and Onouha sent a corner kick that was capped off by freshman Joe Ficarotta 16 minutes into the second half to put the Falcons up 5-2.
For the game, both LoBasso and Onuoha netted a pair of goals and two assists, while Griffin added two goals and one assist.
“All three of us are close to unstoppable when we’re all playing our game,” said Onuoha. “We love finding each other and we love working off of each other.
“It’s a great opportunity to play with two players like them.”
The Falcons closed out the scoring on a goal by Griffin on a breakaway in the 67th minute and another by Onuoha, off a perfect pass from Griffin in the 74th minute.
According to Stoddart, some recent adjustments to Pennsbury’s offense have ignited the game coming from Griffin.
“Some of the changes we’ve made have allowed him to isolate himself on the outside,” said Stoddart. “You saw how dangerous he can be today.”
“John is a possession type player and when he’s on, he can unbalance a defense really quickly.”
Even Stoddart had to admit the goal in the 40th minute by Onuoha was the team’s biggest in this game.
“It was great to get back to that 2-goal cushion,” the coach said.
“We opened it up so early, it was kind of like we didn’t quite know what to do with (the lead).
“They are a dangerous team that kept us under pressure the whole day so that goal was huge.”
As much as the Falcon coach enjoyed seeing his team score seven goals in a district playoff, he said it was important to come back and play lockdown defense after CB West tied things up in the 23rd minute.
“We haven’t given up more than two goals all season and today was going to be a big test after they were putting us under so much pressure early on,” explained Stoddart.
“We really settled in and played well from the back through the front and then we were just really dangerous up high.”
Pennsbury won’t have this good of a time Saturday vs. SOL Continental Conference Champ North Penn. The Knights have just three losses and they were all 1-0 games vs. defending PIAA state 4A champ CB East, CB West, and 2016 Philadelphia Catholic League finalist LaSalle.
DISTRICT 1 CLASS AAAA BOYS SOCCER
Pennsbury 7, Central Bucks West 2
(Oct. 27 at Macclesfield)
CB WEST 2 0 – 2
PENNSBURY 4 3 – 7
FIRST-HALF GOALS: P — John Griffin, from LoBasso, 5th minute; Zach LoBasso, 8th minute; LoBasso 26th minute, from Obi Onuoha, Onuoha from LoBasso, 40th minute; CBW — Nick Doyle 17th minute; Luke Fehrman (CBW) from Doyle, 23rd minute.
SECOND-HALF GOALS: P — Joe Ficarotta from Onuoha, 56th minute, Griffin 67th minute, Onuoha (P) from Griffin, 74th minute; CBW — none.
SHOTS: Pennsbury — 18; CB West — 12.
SAVES: Nate Slotnick (P) 8; Dylan Smith (CBW) 4.