REIFFTON >> Fleetwood and Wilson met twice on the pitch Thursday night at Exeter High School to decide the matter of winning BCIAA championships. The final results were a draw, nearly mimicking the play itself.
The Wilson girls captured the Berks League crown by prevailing over the Tigers on penalty kicks, 4-3, in the opener after 110 minutes of soccer failed to resolve a 1-1 deadlock.
During the skills competition tiebreak, Wilson goalie Darcie Jones pulled off the unique double in facing Fleetwood’s PKs, then scoring the eventual decider herself. Jones was listed fifth on Wilson’s PK lineup; her boot gave the Bulldogs a 4-3 edge that held up when Fleetwood’s final attempt sailed wide of the right goalpost.
“We were practicing this week and I told Coach (Tim) Fick to put everything on me, put me last (on the PK list),” Jones said. “He’s put a lot on me this year and that’s what I wanted it. I’ve accepted it.”
The Fleetwood boys shut down the Bulldogs in the nightcap to capture the league trophy, 1-0, for the Tigers’ first Berks title in eight seasons. Abraham Jalloh’s marker from just inside the 18, in the 44th minute, was the only goal of that match. The Tigers’ central defense did a masterful job of absorbing pressure in making Jalloh’s goal stand up, especially as the Bulldogs grew desperate down the stretch searching for an equalizer.
“I saw the ball coming my way and my first instinct was to trap it and then put it where the keeper could not get it,” Jalloh said. “I wanted to score this for my teammates because we’ve worked really hard for this. It felt amazing that I scored for my teammates and for Fleetwood town. … I am truly happy that we can bring something home.”
Veteran Fleetwood boys’ head coach Keith Schlegel spoke with a sense of joy mingled with relief.
“It’s just a great feeling,’ Schlegel said. “We were glad to be back in the final and it was a tough game. Wilson’s a great competitor. It was messier game than we like, but we were warriors out there. All those set plays and throw-ins, we fought through it. We got a real nice goal and we kept it.”
The teams battled through a scoreless first half with a dearth of shots on target and scoring opportunities, thanks primarily to a solid defensive corps presence at both ends flushing much of the play wide.
Jalloh’s goal came with 36:39 left in regulation on a probing ball that found his right foot just inside the box. He controlled it, then slotted it past Wilson keeper Nathan Holler uncontested to the lower right-hand corner.
Wilson had a flurry of chances inside 20 minutes to find an equalizer, but the Tigers warded them all off, sometimes by no more than a crazy carom of good fortune. Schlegel couldn’t see any of it.
“Unfortunately, I was really far away from that stuff,” Schlegel said. “I saw people falling and you couldn’t even see the ball from where I was standing and you’d hear the people gasp and you’d see the ball come out the other end. Everybody was slipping. It was wet out there.”
In the opener, Fleetwood’s girls grabbed a 1-0 lead eight minutes in, when Faith Herndon pocketed a carom past Jones, off her right midsection. Wilson’s keeper and a teammate met at the ball from roughly eight yards out, but the sphere bounced off both and right into Herndon, who was onside.
That held up until the 44th minute, when Wilson’s Natalie Vicari tied the score on a ball fed from Emily Magalotti. The strike would be the final one to find twine.
Sixty-six minutes of additional time — which included two 15-minute Golden Goal overtimes, did not net a game-winner.
“It was a little bit of a slow start for us, put ourselves in a hole,” Wilson coach Tim Fick said. “But I told the girls at halftime that you just have to go out and play without fear. We got the equalizing goal, then had a lot of chances. They’re (Fleetwood) a solid defensive team, but we never gave up.
“We hate that (penalty kicks). It’s a tough way to lose and we’ve been on both ends of it over the years. But I’m just really happy for them right now.”
BCIAA boys’ title game
Fleetwood 1, Wilson 0
F- Abraham Jalloh, 43:21
Shots on goal
F 4, W 4
F 3, W 5
F 4, W 3
BCIAA girls’ title game
Wilson 1, Fleetwood 1 (Wilson wins on PKs, 4-3)
F- Faith Herndon, 7:59
W- Natalie Vicari (Emily Magalotti), 43:37
Shots on goal
W 10, F 5
W 7, F 7
W 4, F 9
Half: 1-0, Fleetwood
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