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Sluggish 1st half costs LC against New Hope-Solebury in District 1/12-2A final

Members of New Hope-Solebury boys soccer team celebrates their 3-2 overtime win in the District 1/12-2A final as they race past dejected Lansdale Catholic players on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

DOYLESTOWN >> Lansdale Catholic has struggled with the first half all season.

Saturday afternoon though, the Crusaders seemed especially off in the first 40 minutes of the District 1/12 AA boys’ soccer final. They managed two goals, but they also gave up two and didn’t look like the same team that had played well the last few weeks of the season.

LC played well after halftime, but its subpar first half came back to bite it as New Hope-Solebury won 3-2 in overtime.

“I don’t think we came out to play in the first half,” LC senior Dan White said. “We came out better in the second half, but the first half we didn’t come out to play and they outplayed us.”

The Crusaders had been a massively successful side when they scored first all season, winning every time they did so. That changed Saturday. New Hope-Solebury came out energized and wanting to take the game at LC.

New Hope-Solebury’s Patrick Costello and Lansdale Catholic’s Matt McDonald race for a high bouncing ball during the District 1/12-2A final on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

LC caught a break when a deflected shot by Jacob Zimmerman hit off a defender then clanged off the post, it’s flight path tracking away from keeper Joe Duffy. The Crusaders managed to withstand the initial surge and then took the lead when junior Matt McDonald struck with 16:34 left in the first half.

After Ray Royds headed the ball down to him, McDonald touched to his right then ripped the ball home. The lead didn’t hold long.

“I think that we after we scored our goals, we got a sense of getting up and they capitalized on that and put two in the back of the net,” White said.

Jake Jaquemot tied the game up two-and-half minutes later when he tapped home the ball after Duffy couldn’t catch a free kick.

“Today just wasn’t our day, throughout the season you’re going to have those bad games you just hope they don’t come in the bad moments like this,” LC coach Bill James said. “The fortunate thing is both teams in this final get a chance to move forward and for us, redeem ourselves. New Hope played a good game.”

Lansdale Catholic’s Evan Senour battles New Hope Solebury’s Jacob Zimmerman during the District 1/12-2A final on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

LC re-gained the lead thanks to McDonald very late in the first half. New Hope keeper Ethan Datz came way off his line to try and clear a ball, hitting it but not nearly far enough. McDonald, standing about 30 yards from goal, went up and hit a heavy header that flew past the pressed up New Hope players and into the open net with 1:14 left in the first half.

Again, the Crusaders’ lack of focus would cost them dearly. It didn’t even take a minute as the Lions went down and took advantage of an LC breakdown to get the equalizer when Nathan Bawduniak converted Deven Smith’s through ball with 16 seconds left.

“We talked about it after the game, mentally knowing what the situation is,” James said. “We took the lead both times and giving it back both times within two minutes is something we need to be smarter about. I think we’ll clean up for the state tournament.”

At times in the first half, New Hope had LC absolutely pinned in its own half, unable to connect passes or keep possession. The Lions started the second half well, but LC managed to settle in and played much better in possessing and moving the ball.

White said the Crusaders weren’t winning headers in the first half and not going after the ball aggressively, which led to New Hope’s spells of possession, though the team cleaned up in the second half.

Both sides had a couple of decent chances in the second half, with McDonald hitting the post with two minutes left. It was even, and neither side could capitalize, bringing up extra time.

Lansdale Catholic’s Steve Esterle takes the ball up field against New Hope-Solebury during the District 1/12-2A final on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

“Teams at this level are all going to be good and you can not give up 40 minutes of play,” James said. “Moving forward this week we’re going to work on continuing to be the first team to score. Every game, you’re not going to have your best day and I think they’re going to be fine moving forward.”

New Hope didn’t need long to finish the game. A first ball in was hit around, finding Zimmerman, who didn’t waste the effort with the game-winner just 1:15 into the extra session.

“The attitude toward today’s game puts more of a damper on it,” White said. “We’re going to come out in the next game and try to put it away. I think we’ll improve our warm-up, just anything to get us going.”

LC will return to play Tuesday in the first round of the state tournament.

“It’s the incentive and something we’re going to have to have in the back of our minds,” James said. “There’s no second chances moving forward and the seniors will have that on their mind. It’s up to the underclassmen to play for their seniors and not let it be their last game.”

NEW HOPE-SOLEBURY 3, LANSDALE CATHOLIC 2 (OT)
NEW HOPE-SOLEBURY 2 0 1 – 3
LANSDALE CATHOLIC 2 0 0 – 2
Goals: LC – Matt McDonald 2; NHS – Jake Jaquemot, Nathan Bawduniak, Jacob Zimmerman.

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