GRATERFORD >> Michael Weir and Matt Holmes each scored a goal for Perkiomen Valley as the Vikings defeated Downingtown West 2-1 in the first round of the District One Class 4A playoffs Tuesday night at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium.
Despite holding the ball for much of the game, the Whippets were unable to get many clean scoring chances as the Vikings held them to just two corner kicks and eight shots on goal. Perk Valley’s counter-attacking style of play came in handy as the Vikings took a 2-0 lead into the half and never let it up.
“Our philosophy is to have 10 men behind the ball,” Perkiomen Valley head coach Bob McCabe explained. “We’re a defensive-minded team and we’re trying to keep the score as close to zero as we can.”
The Vikings got on the board first when Weir sailed a free kick from midfield off the fingertips of the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Holmes extended Perkiomen Valley’s lead late in the first half on a more typical goal, pushing the ball into the net from just inside the six-yard-line.
In the second half, the Whippets came out determined to even the score, firing three shots on goal in the first five minutes of the period. Finally, Downingtown broke through when Chase Hanak caught the Perk Valley defense out of position and headed home a goal to cut the lead to just one.
Despite the pressure put on by Downingtown West, Perk Valley’s defense kept its composure and never let the Whippets get any easy shots or opportunities in the closing minutes, even when the Vikings starting goalkeeper Andrew Daubenspeck had to leave the game for a short time due to an injury he sustained on a diving save.
“I thought that was our best game of the year, defensively,” McCabe said. “Our shaping and positioning, our communication was great throughout the whole game. Usually we have guys arguing back there, but everyone was on the same page tonight.”
The two teams met in Downingtown two weeks ago with the Whippets emerging the victors, besting Perk Valley, 2-0. But McCabe believes a number of factors contributed to his team coming out on top when it mattered most.
“This game was supposed to be earlier in the day, but my players said we had to have it at night, in front of our fans in the stadium,” McCabe said. “Also, we’re one of the few schools in this area that still plays on grass. Our team doesn’t play the most beautiful brand of soccer, but we can muck it up on a dirty field as well as anyone.”
Just two years ago, Perkiomen Valley managed to win only two games, but they’re up to 14 victories in 2017 with an opportunity for more as they head to Unionville for the next round of the playoffs.
“I give these kids all the credit in the world,” McCabe said. “They’re starting to learn how to win games and stay competitive. The boys have worked hard all year long and they are accomplishing goals they set out to achieve at the beginning of the year.”
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