ROYERSFORD >> Locked in a 3-3 battle with Spring-Ford, Wissahickon was making a last-ditch effort to put the Rams away once and for all. The Trojans had already blown three leads in the preceding 80 minutes and didn’t want to play any extra time.
Wissahickon’s Eddie Fortescue raced to the sideline as the clock ticked toward zero. The junior grabbed the ball and heaved a throw toward the net. After a few bounces, the ball ricocheted off Jacob Kaffey and into the back of the net with just 2.7 seconds on the clock as the Trojans escaped Coach McNelly Stadium with a 4-3 win in a District 1 Class 4A second round game Thursday night.
“I was just trying to make something happen,” Fortescue said. “I saw there was a huge opening at the front of the net, so I just tossed it right in front of the goalie and we were able to get the finisher.”
“I had been standing by the goalkeeper for a lot of the game on plays like that to draw another defender toward me,” Kaffey said. “But this time I was left wide open in front of the net and was able to get a foot on the ball.”
Kaffey’s goal sent the Wissahickon bench into a frenzy as the No. 11-seeded Trojans punched a ticket to the next round in the playoffs and ousted No. 6 Spring-Ford. Wissahickon hosts No. 19 Council Rock North, a 3-0 winner over No.3 North Penn on Thursday, in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Trojans jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute when a handball in the box gave them a penalty kick. Jacob Cohen stepped up and punched the ball into the back of the net.
However, Spring-Ford made a habit of coming back with timely goals all night long and junior midfielder Sal Ibarra tied the game less than a minute later.
“I think we played really well for the first 20 minutes,” Wissahickon coach Dave Stevenson said. “As soon as we scored, that seemed to fire them up and they evened the game quickly. It was an evenly-matched game, but we never got back to what we did in the first 20 minutes.”
Kaffey scored his first goal of the night later in the first half on a similar play to his game winner. A bouncing ball found its way to his foot and he simply pushed it past the Spring-Ford goalkeeper.
“I don’t even know what happened on that one,” Kaffey said with a laugh. “The ball just came down through the goalie’s hands. My back was turned and I turned around and the ball was right there. I was able to just poke it through.”
Spring-Ford had a shot to equalize the game right before the half on a penalty kick of their own, but Ronnie Minges’s shot was stopped by a diving save from Jun Yuh. The Rams wasted little time getting on the board in the second half, though, as Nathan Alban knotted the game at 2-2 just 38 seconds into the second period.
“I told the guys we were playing great and needed to keep up the pressure and a goal would come,” Spring-Ford coach Brent Kissel said. “At halftime, we talked about having no regrets and just leaving it all on the field, especially our seniors.”
The game was deadlocked at two for 10 minutes before Liam Weiss scored on a rocket of a shot to give Wissahickon their third, one-goal advantage of the game. But once again, Spring-Ford was quick to respond. Colin Trainor netted the third goal of the night for the Rams and the home team seemed to have Wissahickon on its heels.
However, just one minute after tying the game, Spring-Ford was forced to play a man down for the rest of the game after Calvin Thomas was awarded his second yellow card and left the Rams playing with 10 men.
“Once we fell a man down, we dropped back and played very defensive,” Kissel said. “Our guys did a good job of possessing the ball and limiting their scoring chances.”
Spring-Ford allowed just five shots in the entire second half.
“It seemed like they had all 11 guys out there when they only had 10,” Stevenson added. “Our passes weren’t crisp and they did a good job defensively.”
In the final minutes, Wissahickon started putting a lot of pressure on the undermanned Rams and was finally able to break through with Kaffey’s heroic goal. But, despite the victory, the Trojans were far from pleased with their performance.
“I told these guys after the game, ‘We need to play better,’” Stevenson said. “We couldn’t hold three leads and I’m sure that made for an exciting game, but we need to play better if we expect to advance further in the playoffs.”
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