TOWAMENCIN >> Luke McMahon saw Jack Johnston dashing down the right wing and the North Penn senior knew this was a golden opportunity for the Knights to get in front of Souderton Tuesday afternoon.
“Jack came on right before I played the ball. Jack’s not a winger, but Jack’s the fastest kid that I know so when I saw him on the wing, I was like “I got to get him through,’” McMahon said. “So when he made the darting run, I was like that’s it.”
Johnston charged onto the ball sent forward by McMahon, took a touch into the Indians’ 18-yard box then drilled a shot past Souderton goalkeeper Mitchell Race into the left side of the net and after pressuring throughout the second half, the Knights finally had broken the 1-1 tie in the Suburban One League Continental Conference boys soccer matchup.
“What a great take that was,” said North Penn coach Paul Duddy of Johnston’s goal. “He covers a lot of ground that guy.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) September 19, 2017
McMahon followed his assist with a goal to secure the Knights’ fourth-straight victory — a 3-1 win over the visiting Indians and moved North Penn in a tie for first in the Continental with Central Bucks East and Central Bucks West at nine points.
“We got off to a slow start. It’s a big win especially with what happened last night with (CB) East beating (CB) West so now we’re tied up again at the top of the league,” McMahon said. “It’s a good win.”
The Knights controlled the flow of the game for most of the 80 minutes but found themselves trailing in the first half as Sam Becket sailed a long-distance effort from the left side into an open net
“I think we hesitated,” Duddy said. “I think we had two or three defenders plus the keeper pretty close to the ball but nobody went and got it. And, hey, credit to their player.”
But after Becket gave Big Red a 1-0 edge, the Indians could not generate much of an attack as they lost their second straight.
“It was really good to get the opening goal,” Souderton coach Matt Benner said. “It was good to kind of get off on the right foot. And you can’t just kind of sit back against North Penn, they got quality all through their side. They got good athleticism and speed. We didn’t defend well enough on restarts and that was the one that hit us, that first goal of theirs.
“But we’re starting to figure out as we go, we’re trying to put more complete efforts together and we just talked at the here about working some of the little things out in the beginning part of the season so that we’re poised for a good stretch run.”
Ryan Stewart scored two level the score with the Knights coming closing to taking the lead before the break only for Race to come a pair of stellar saves. But North Penn’s steady pressure continued in the second half and eventually Johnston and McMahon found the back of the net as the Knights stay perfect since its first loss of the season — a 2-1 road overtime defeat to CB West Sept. 8
“I think we’ve played better the past two games than the way the first four games for sure,” Duddy said. “Just like they’re coming together a little bit better. That’s kind of senior leadership and training and stuff we’re working on, trying to correct.”
North Penn also continued its run of success against the Indians — winning its third straight over Big Red and stretching its unbeaten run against its SOL Continental rival to 10 (9-0-1). Souderton’s last win over NP came in 2012.
“We struggled a little bit today with having players hurt or playing through illness,” Benner said. “And they have a very deep team and they were able to run numbers at us. Some of the quality of their players in the top half of the field with (Carter) Houlihan and (Aiden) Jerome and McMahon really started to get in on the attack and cause problems for us.”
North Penn hosts Philadelphia Catholic League side Archbishop Wood 10 a.m. Saturday. Souderton looks to end a two-game losing streak 7 p.m. Friday at home against Southern Lehigh.
“We’ve played very well on our home field so far this year,” Benner said. “We haven’t lost there and we know that that’s going to continue, 100-percent confidence that we get back on the training ground tomorrow and we make things right for Friday and we keep that good string of results going at home on Friday night.”
The ball bounced North Penn’s way on its equalizer, as a long-range effort from Houlihan deflected off a Souderton player into the box, right into the path of Stewart, who stepped into a shot and blasted it in.
Race, however, twice prevented the Knights from a second goal in the first 40 minutes. First, McMahon got an wide-open look after a free kick into the box was headed down to him. But Race — while jumping up — still got a foot on McMahon’s shot.
“Mitch is my club goalie so I know him and to have him stone me, he played a heck of a game,” McMahon said.
Race then denied Jerome’s hard volley off a cross into the box with a diving save.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) September 19, 2017
In the second half, Race kept McMahon for tallying the go-ahead goal again. McMahon got a touch on a ball Stewart lofted into the box but Race dove into McMahon’s path and tapped it away before the NP senior could knock the ball over the line.
But after Johnston gave the Knights the 2-1 advantage, McMahon finally got one past Race. A long clearance by North Penn goalkeeper Joe Lindsey got behind the Indians backline and to McMahon for a breakaway and a clinical finish into the opposite right corner.
“I saw Joey pointed to me and once the ball bounced I saw their defender step up so I knew I could behind him with my speed,” McMahon said. “And put it away for the insurance goal.”