LEHMAN >> There’s a lot the Daniel Boone boys soccer team didn’t know.
The Blazers didn’t know what it was like to make the PIAA Championships. They didn’t know what it would be like to play in states, either.
And Jamie Burns, standing over a free kick from 22 yards out near the midpoint of the first half of Boone’s PIAA Class AAA first round game against Dallas, still isn’t sure how he did what he did.
“We started off the game with some good chances but couldn’t put any away,” the Blazers senior forward said. “I hit that free kick – I don’t know how I hit that but it went in – and it started a 10-minute push for us and we got another one.”
Burns’ brilliant top-left corner strike began a Daniel Boone first-half barrage that saw the standout frontman find the net again and the Blazers withstood a nervy finish to top District 2 champion Dallas, 2-1, in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA Championships at Lake Lehman High School.
What the Blazers didn’t know hasn’t hurt them, that’s for sure.
“We knew we had a good team with potential, it’s good to see us fulfilling that because we haven’t in past years, we’ve been bounced in the first round of playoffs. But now we’re in the state quarterfinals – it’s unreal to be honest with you,” Burns said.
The District 3 third-place finisher Blazers advance to face District 11 champion Northwestern Lehigh, a 1-0 winner over Athens in another first round game.
It wasn’t the sharpest start for Boone as Dallas’ direct style of play put the defense under pressure. The Blazers gained some traction as the half progressed with some chances created for Burns through the attacking group of Burns, Ayoub Mouhou, Matt Glady and Carter Ferguson and midfielders Greg Blume and Tyler Brown.
The tide fully turned in the 18th minute on Burns’ take that hit the inside of the left post and caromed in.
“It was a good distance and I knew if I got it up and over (the wall) with some pace that it would go in,” said Burns, who is among Berks’ top scorers this season with 28 goals. “Top corner, I can’t write that, it just happened. I’m going to remember that one for a while.”
Jamie Burns top corner! Beauty from 22. Boone u 1-0, 22:46 1H pic.twitter.com/rGeOswKEPy
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) November 8, 2016
The Blazers were in firm control and fully deserving of goal No. 2 as Mouhou played centrally on the counterattack to Burns, who calmly struck his shot to the left of the Dallas keeper.
The game had the makings of a rout at that point, but it never came to fruition. Dallas came out strong in the second half with Nate Maransky playing supplier for forwards Zack Kalna and Zach Holthaus. Then, with 21 minutes remaining, a costly miscommunication between the Blazers’ D and goalkeeper Stephen Williams saw neither come for a high ball that Maransky ran on to a finished to make it improbably a one-goal game.
“After their goal it just got me fired up,” Blazers defender Matt Lambert said. “Before the goal maybe we were lackadaisical back there with a 2-0 lead. But once that goal went in we got fired up and were going hard to every ball.”
The Boone defense – Lambert joined by Colin Barndt, Cooper Duffie and Ben Hofmanner – did their part down the stretch to hang on, Lambert making a key tackle with Holthaus in a goal with five minutes left.
“It’s great, a great way to pull it out in the end. We started falling off but a win’s a win,” Burns said. “State quarterfinals and you can’t be mad about that.”
By The Numbers
Boone held a decided statistical advantage with 10 shots on goal to two by Dallas. The Blazers led in corners 11-3, including four in direct succession in the second half.
The 14-8 Blazers, under coach Matt Kade, will be the underdogs in their quarterfinal against undefeated Northwestern Lehigh, but that won’t bother them.
“Anything happens now,” Lambert said. “We play an undefeated team but who knows? Any given day any team can win.”