LOWER GWYNEDD >> Danny Harmon just wanted to throw something on target.
So when a long punt out of his end took a bounce and hit off a defender, the Hatboro-Horsham senior forward knew it was his chance to try and make something happen. With Wissahickon’s goalkeeper surging in and a defender on his shoulder, Harmon got up and put his head on the ball.
He got just enough of it, and with nobody back, the ball rolled into the net.
Harmon’s goal was the difference as the Hatters topped Wiss 2-1 on Thursday, in a match typical of the two sides.
“They beat us the second time last year, it was a tough loss, and we had that in the back of our minds,” Harmon said. “We had to give it all we had, we knew they were going to be great.”
Most of the action happened in the second half, with both teams spending the first 40 minutes figuring each other out and trying to decipher how the pair of officials were calling the game. Wissahickon in particular, used four different formations during the contest.
It was an intense match, with Wissahickon’s stout, aggressive style matching up with Hatboro-Horsham’s hustle and work rate. The Hatters weren’t hiding what they wanted to do, looking for balls up to Harmon or Nick Hatzenbeller, but they too had to learn what and when the offside whistles would get called.
“We knew (Wiss) would be good, they returned a lot of all-league guys,” Hatters coach Kyle McGrath said. “They don’t sub a ton, so we knew if we could hang in the game in the first half and some of the second half, we might be able to wear them down a little bit. We were able to put the pressure on them and finish two goals.”
The Hatters scored first when Ryan Cole got one of those balls over the top to pick out Hatzenbeller. Hatzenbeller sealed a defender off his right shoulder, controlled the ball and with space, picked a spot and hit it with 24 minutes left in the game.
Wissahickon threw numbers up and equalized six minutes later when David Goldstein played a looping cross into the box with Eddie Fortescue rising up to head it home with the keeper pulled off his line.
“I told the players they have to decide how they want the season to go,” Wiss coach Stuart Malcolm said. “We won our first three, we’ve lost our last three. I think you saw in the last 15 minutes, they started to wake up, started to get a bit panicky and not necessarily in control but to be honest, I’d rather prefer what I saw there than the first 65 minutes.”
It was a rough week for Wissahickon, which lost both of its SOL American contests, including a 6-3 setback against Upper Dublin on Tuesday.
Fortescue had another excellent look at a header shortly after his goal, but it went wide. Hatzenbeller followed that up with a nice move on the endline, but his shot rang off the post and Harmon followed with an effort saved by the keeper.
With 11 minutes left, Harmon finally got his chance.
“I anticipated a missed header, I saw it bouncing and the keeper was coming out,” Harmon said. “I knew I had a little window to get a touch or a head on it, I went for the header and it went in. I was just trying to create any kind of opportunity I could.”
The Hatters locked up defensively for the final 11 minutes, even as Wiss switched to a 4-3-3 formation and threw numbers up into the attack. Harmon had another near-miss when his acute-angled strike was palmed away by Trojans keeper Jun Yuh.
Hatboro-Horsham dropped a conference game to Springfield Twp last week by a 4-1 margin, a result the Hatters all said was deserved. But the setback also helped put Hatboro-Horsham back on track.
“It helped us a lot actually, I thought we had some false sense of confidence for no reason so that showed us everybody is as good as us,” Harmon said. “We haven’t done anything yet and it put us on the right track.”
Wissahickon saw the return of Blake Geisler, a senior forward who had been out for about two weeks with an injury. It was a welcome return, but the Trojans are still looking for their own spark to get back to what worked so well the first three matches of the season.
“Having the talented players is going to be the difference in the game, but if you don’t have 11 out there who are going to really compete, it isn’t going to matter,” Malcolm said. “We weren’t sure where the goals were going to come from, but we figured we were going to be very difficult to score on. You don’t become difficult to score on if you don’t compete.”
HATBORO-HORSHAM 2, WISSAHICKON 1
Hatboro-Horsham 0 2 – 2
Wissahickon 0 1 – 1
Goals: HH – Nick Hatzenbeller (Ryan Cole), Danny Harmon; W – Eddie Fortescue (David Goldstein).