UPPER DUBLIN >> Hatboro-Horsham’s defense didn’t have to look hard for its motivation Monday night.
The Hatters’ boys soccer team’s back line had yielded three scores in a loss to Upper Dublin earlier in the season and quite frankly, they were mad about it. Their goal was simple in the rematch under the lights at Cardinals Stadium.
Hatboro-Horsham wanted a shutout.
Behind an inspired effort from the back line and midfield, a scrappy goal and a moment of brilliance, the Hatters topped Upper Dublin 2-0 to take over sole share of first place in the Suburban One League American Conference.
“Our back four was the difference,” Hatters senior forward Danny Harmon said. “They shut those guys out the whole game, they really had one chance the whole game it was from a horrible angle, so I just thought they did a great job and would applaud this win to them.”
Harmon provided the moment of brilliance on the game-sealing goal with 6:51 left but it was the gritty score by midfielder Brad Bornstein with 19:02 left in the second half that won the match. Bornstein has been a bit of a late-season revelation for the Hatters (13-2-2, 10-2-1 conference) , emerging from the bench as a guy coach Kyle McGrath can’t take off the field.
BOYS SOCCER 19:02 2nd half: Hatboro-Horsham 1, Upper Dublin 0
Brad Bornstein (i think) taps in from point blank off free kick pic.twitter.com/TYJBu0uo3g
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) October 17, 2017
It’s helped that a red card and then another circumstance opened up a spot in the team’s central midfield triangle the last two matches but even at full strength, Bornstein has shown he deserves minutes.
“He’s been doing great in training,” McGrath said. “He was great and to have him come off the bench and play like he is, I can’t say enough about him or how ready he’s been.”
Up until the goal, it had been a perfectly even game between two very good teams. The American’s top four of UD, Hatboro-Horsham, Wissahickon and Plymouth Whitemarsh have traded results against each other all season, so it wasn’t shocking the conference won’t be settled until its final night.
Even with the win on Monday, the Hatters have to defeat Cheltenham on Wednesday to lock up one of their main goals this season. McGrath said he was a little worried his players were so focused on Monday, but once he saw them apply that focus in the games leading up to it, he knew their motivation was being used the right way.
Upper Dublin (11-4-1, 9-3-1) finishes its league schedule with Upper Moreland, then faces North Penn as a last match before the postseason. Monday, though, the Cardinals were dejected that they weren’t able to top the Hatters for a second time this season.
The Cardinals played most of the second half without senior lynchpin Max Adams, who had a lingering injury flare up.
“The next person in should be ready and it’s unfortunate we weren’t able to replicate what he can do,” UD coach Andy Meehan said. “That’s what I was starting to get worried about toward the end, it felt like one of those games where one goal could win it. When we crashed numbers up, they scored another to give them a little extra cushioning.”
Hatboro-Horsham’s back line is strong as a quartet but it is led by its two center backs, seniors Josh Haggerty and Will Kemp. Junior Jason Czplicki is a first-year starter at fullback while his opposite outside back, Jake Weiss, is a freshman.
Even with Adams sidelined, the Cardinals present plenty of threats, chiefly in seniors Jerry Bardol and Quinn Middleton. A majority of UD’s opportunities came off set pieces, but the Hatters were able to keep them in check.
“We just had to tighten up in the back, not let any of those through balls get through and keep our heads in there,” Kemp said. “You can’t lose Jerry or Quinn outside. We put JD (Mallinder) on Jerry and he did a great job.”
Senior defensive mid Colin Bateman also played well for the Hatters in protecting the back line.
The game was still very much in doubt when Andrew Hurrell won a tackle at midfield and advanced up the field and saw Harmon in space. Once UD committed numbers up, Harmon told Kemp to have the defense and midfielders play the ball long and he would track it down.
Hurrell’s ball found Harmon in the box, where the senior chested it down, turned on a defender then uncorked a perfect half-volley into the net. For his part, the senior did not admire the work of art as it was being enacted.
“I just thought let me get this on frame and see what happens,” Harmon said. “I was hoping to get a rebound or something. It went in, it was pretty cool and it clinched the win.”
McGrath was able to fully appreciate it.
“It’s one of the best high school goals you’ll see all year,” McGrath said. “It’s a fantastic goal and the insurance goal at that point is huge because Upper Dublin was starting to press us.”
Hatboro-Horsham is all but a lock for a first-round bye in the district tournament and Kemp said he and his teammates feel like they’re capable of a long playoff run. First, the Hatters host Cheltenham on Wednesday night where they will honor their seniors and also attempt to lock up a conference title.
“It shows our heart and dedication as a group,” Harmon said. “We were able to pull it together as a group, come back and get this far. We’ve had our eye on being league champions since last year, we came so close but we knew this year would be our year.”
HATBORO-HORSHAM 2, UPPER DUBLIN 0
HATBORO-HORSHAM 0 2 – 2
UPPER DUBLIN 0 0 – 0
Goals: HH–Brad Borstein, Danny Harmon. Shots: UD–4, HH–8. Saves: UD–Alex Goldstein 6, HH–Zack Kim 4.