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Upper Dublin holds off Hatboro-Horsham, takes lead in SOL American

Hatboro-Horsham's Jake Weiss works to take the ball from Upper Dublin’s Jerry Bardol during their game on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

HORSHAM >> On a free kick from a few yards outside the 18-yard box, the right-footed effort of Upper Dublin’s Jerry Bardol found the precise path to get over the wall then fit between the crossbar and the outstretched hands of Hatboro-Horsham goalkeeper Zack Kim.

It was just like the Cardinals senior had worked on right before the game.

“In warmups coach (Andy Meehan) actually took me aside, I was hitting them basically the same spot and he was giving me some pointers,” Bardol said. “And did what he told me and it went in.”

Bardol’s strike was the opening tally in Tuesday afternoon’s contest between the two teams tied atop the Suburban One League American Conference standings. He provided the assist later in the first half as the visiting Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead then held off the Hatters’ charge in the final 40 minutes to earn a 3-2 victory and sit alone in first place.

“Horsham’s great. We’ve won the league past two years but senior year it means a lot to us and we’re really excited to be in first right now,” Bardol said. “We’re in the driver’s seat so we just have to keep winning and keep playing our best.”

Bardol collected another assist after halftime, as his corner kick was headed in by Matthew Yoon to put Upper Dublin (5-2-0, 5-1-0 conference) up 3-1. The goal proved to be very necessary as Colin Bateman’s volley pulled Hatboro-Horsham (7-2-1, 4-2-0) back within one, but the Hatters could not find a late equalizer and had their six-game win streak snapped.

“I didn’t think the first half we were good at all. I thought our energy level was real low and took us a while to get into the game,” Hatboro-Horsham coach Kyle McGrath said. “Scoring late in the half helped, but still at that point it wasn’t good enough and that’s not how we’ve played kind of the whole year to get where we’re at right now. Definitely disappointed and frustrated with the energy level and work ethic in the first half.”

Max Adams also scored for the Cardinals, who hold down first in the SOL American at 15 points — three clear of the Hatters, Plymouth Whitemarsh and Wissahickon — but there is still plenty of games to play with UD and Hatboro-Horsham about the hit the conference’s halfway point.

Hatboro-Horsham’s Nick Hatzenbeller battles Upper Dublin’s Dan Ness and Quinn Middleton for a loose ball during their game on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

“It puts us in the driver’s seat,” Meehan said. “We want to make sure we understand we take everything one game at a time no matter who it is. We go out there, we prepare the same way, we fight the same way.”

Both the Cards and Hatters are back on the field 3:30 p.m. Thursday — Upper Dublin hosting Upper Moreland while Hatboro-Horsham visits Cheltenham.

“We’re still early in the league season, we haven’t gone through the full cycle yet,” McGrath said. “We still face a lot of good teams, they still play a lot of good teams. So, we know that the title race, by no means is over and there’s other teams that are right behind us and now tied with us I’m sure after today’s results that are going to be just as hungry as we are.

“So, hopefully we’re in a position the next time we play them for an opportunity to compete for a league time. And if we are, I know that’ll be a great game.”

For Meehan, Bardol’s strike off a free kick was not shocking since the coach had seen what the senior had put into honing the skill.

“It’s something that we worked on. I’m not surprised by it, he works it on, not just during practice but after practice as well,” Meehan said. “The fact that he’s able to score I’m not surprised by it.”

Bardol went on to set up the Cardinals second goal, dribbling towards the Hatters goal before finding Adams to his left. Adams calmly slid a shot past Kim and into the net’s far right corner.

“Ball got played out I was able to get the ball carried up the right wing and Max was with me,” Bardol said. “I just drew center back and Max was wide open, so I just played it off to him. He was able to finish.”

Hatboro-Horsham’s Nick Hatzenbeller collides with Upper Dublin’s Kevin Devlin while going for a pass during their game on Sept. 26, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

The Hatters, however, found some offensive energy before halftime and made it 2-1 at the break when the ball took a big bounce just before six-yard box on Danny Harmon’s long-range shot and went into the net.

“Danny’s been great for us all year,” McGrath said. “It’s kind of a fluky goal because he hits a half volley and it bounces up and takes a huge bounce but that’s high school soccer. You see a lot of weird goals in high school soccer and I think that kind of rejuvenated us a little bit.”

The Hatters kept up the pressure looking to get even after halftime but the first goal of the second half went to the Hatters as Yoon headed in a Bardol corner at the near post.

“I hit it and Matt was there. Great job getting the head on it by him,” Bardol said.

Bateman got the Hatters back with on as he got on the end of JD Mallinder’s cross to the far right post and blasted a volley into the net.

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