PHOENIXVILLE >> It was Senior Night at Phoenixville and the Phantoms boys soccer team wanted to put on a performance.
Their supporters were in for a treat.
The free-flowing Phantoms put an assault on the Pope John Paul II net in a matchup of unbeaten teams in the Pioneer Athletic Conference Frontier Division, ultimately rolling up a 3-1 victory over the Golden Panthers Monday night at Washington Field.
After PJP surprised Phoenixville with a counterattack goal ignited by forward Colin Flanegin who assisted Sal Marano less than four minutes into the game, the Phantoms were a force from there with TJ Stevens leveling the game midway through the first half before Jared Carboy was on the double in the second half with a pair of goals.
“For us we’re always excited to attack. That’s the best part of the game. We love attacking. We create a lot of chances and we want to be a team that – you see all the supporters – people like coming out and seeing,” said senior midfielder Kyle Tucker.
Tucker, who formerly played at the academy level with Continental FC Delco, has bolstered a deep senior class that saw 13 honored Monday night. The midfielder joined with Carboy, Stevens and Danny Jackson to spearhead a rampaging attack.
“I feel like our chemistry has increased,” Carboy said of the team’s progression since last season. “We have so many seniors on the team and we’re close friends. Being all together on the same field, especially with Kyle this year, I think we’re able to stay confident and really get excited for these games and pull out results.”
Phoenixville (6-0 Frontier, 8-1 PAC, 11-1-1 overall) was deserving of at least three goals. They had 17 shots on goal (to 3 from PJP) and 28 attempts on goal.
“I thought we started really strong and thought we looked like the better team. We made one mistake and they punished us,” Tucker said. “PJP is a good team. No. 11 (Flanegin) is a quality player and we let him get free. Mistakes like that can kill you against big teams. But our attack was great and we deserved even more than three goals.”
The primary reason for that was PJP goalkeeper John Wagner, who was brilliant in a 14-save evening. His finest sequence may have been when the Phantoms got their breakthrough 19 minutes into the game. Wagner, a junior, made an incredible double-save against Stevens, the first saving a no-doubt header at the far post. But Stevens stuck with the ball in a scramble and poked it home to level the match 1-1.
“We were feeling lucky,” said PJP coach Tom Csongradi of being level at halftime. “They dominated the whole first half. After their first goal we kind of shut down. We were starting to be quiet and needed to pick up the level and we didn’t do it. Their shooting was off target today so we dodged a lot of bullets.”
Carboy didn’t miss 11 minutes into the second half when Stevens found him on a diagonal run on the left side of the penalty area. The senior hit a smooth, low roller to the far post past Wagner for the 2-1 lead.
Carboy got his second with 18:41 remaining with a low, volleyed blast from 30 yards that trickled past Wagner for the 3-1 lead and the final margin.
The stats might indicate otherwise, but the Golden Panthers (5-1 Frontier, 5-4 PAC, 5-5 overall) played with a good amount of grit with Brett Leighton and Michael Harty bolstering the defensive effort.
Despite being sent to their third straight loss, Csongradi hopes his team can take heart in the performance.
“Our last two games we didn’t play well and we lost,” he said. “Today we lost but we played a whole lot better. From that perspective, it’s going to bump us up in confidence.”
Confidence, especially after Monday night, won’t be a problem for the Phantoms.
NOTES >> With their first meeting postponed to the second leg of the league schedule, the Phantoms and Panthers meet again in just one week, on Oct. 9. … Phoenixville entered the week ranked No. 4 in the District 1-AAA power rankings. PJP is No. 10 … Phoenixville’s 13 seniors included goalie Josh Pfender (three saves), Jackson, Blake Ericksen, Tyler Siefer, Velkin Escobar, Tucker, Sean O’Neill, Yair Ibarra, Nick Sinapius, Felix Maiduro, Alex Bowman, Carboy and Dan Heyman.