Connect with us

Fall Sports

Heady Miller helps Radnor boys kick past Henderson

This first half own goal on a corner kick was the difference PIAA District 1 playoffs at Radnor. Henderson lost 2-1. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)
image_pdfimage_print

RADNOR — Peter Miller steals a glance at the knee brace he’s just unstrapped from his leg and produces a date to cut through the uncertainty. October 10, that’s when Miller’s junior season ended, 380 days and one long rehab ago.

Since the Radnor senior has returned to the soccer field, he’s accepted a diminished role, more a rotation cog — like he was as a sophomore on Radnor’s District 1 Class 3A championship squad — than the midfield spearhead he was early last year.

Whatever part he plays, he carries a deep appreciation for the opportunity to be out there with his teammates. And putting his stamp on a game, as he did so many times pre-injury, is a welcome bonus.

Miller forced what turned out to be both the third goal in a 10-minute first-half frenzy and the game-winner, a West Chester Henderson own goal, in a 2-1 win for Radnor in the second round of the District 1 Class 4A tournament Thursday night.

Miller was tasked with getting to the goal line on Bobby Hydrisko’s long throw-in. He directed his header goalward, where it pinged off Henderson defender Nick Dinacci and in, the third goal in the first 18 minutes of the contest and, improbably, the last.

Radnor’s Josh Savadove, left, and goalie Henry Cooke go vertical to celebrate their District 1 Class 4A playoff victory over West Chester Henderson. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

“My job was to be on the keeper,” Miller said. “And I just jumped up and I won it.”

The win moves Radnor (15-2-2) into the Saturday’s quarterfinals to play for a states spot. They’ll travel to No. 2 Spring-Ford, which handled No. 15 W.C. East, 3-1. Five teams advance to states in Class 4A, and Thursday’s win guarantees Radnor at least two more games.

Miller’s altered role owes less to his ability — he half-jokingly pegs himself 97 percent healthy — than the talent around him. In coach Joe Caruolo’s high-pressing system, the Raiders need not just an abundance of fresh bodies to keep the pressure on, but they have talents that can alternate in a variety of roles. Sometimes that means, for instance, Ben Verbofsky covering at right back or left wing. Sometimes it’s a sturdier midfielder in the No. 10 role; others, it’s the more creative David Azzarano pulling the strings.

Within that framework, Miller has found a balance.

“We’ve got a lot of players that can make good plays, and we trust a lot of people in a lot of places,” Miller said. “We’ve just been moving around players to see what works.”

Thursday’s recipe called for big bodies in the middle. That’s where Eliot Hayes thrived, the center-mid combining with center back Bennett Mueller to provide a pair of 6-4 aerial threats. On the narrower Prevost Field, that ability to go vertical stifled much of what Henderson tried to do, denying the ball to creative players like Sam Martin and Joao Argolo.

PHOTO GALLERY: West Chester Henderson at Radnor

Hayes had a hand in the first goal, which was as elegant as the second was workmanlike. He flicked on an Evan Majercak free kick from deep in Radnor’s half, which Ben Engstrom volleyed home from 35 yards out in the seventh minute.

The lead lasted less than 60 seconds. Defender Chris Roberts cushioned down a Dinacci corner kick, serving it perfectly for John McCann to tap it home.

“It was great at first when we got the goal,” Hayes said. “I wasn’t sure it went in, but I saw everyone celebrate and I was ecstatic. Then they hit us right back, and that was tough. But I knew we had to bounce back.”

“He pretty much just knocked it down perfect across with a header,” McCann said. “All I had to do was follow through, tap it right in. It was pretty much just passing it into the net from the middle.”

That the own goal was the last marker strains belief. Henderson had the greater volume of chances, forcing six saves from Radnor goalies. Nate Congleton stopped four shots in the first half, then Henry Cooke supplied the best denial for either side, a leaping punch of a Martin free kick from 24 yards out.

Radnor goalie Nate Congleton makes a diving save against West Chester Henderson in the first half of District 1 playoffs at Radnor. Radnor won 2-1. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

Jon Jungkurth took his turn in the spotlight, pawing a Hayes free kick onto the bar in the second half, while a drive from distance from left back Jack Lee in the 75th sent Jungkurth scrambling before fluttering just wide.

Between a pair of penalty-kick claims waved away and the long throws of Dinacci and Hydrisko that were de facto set pieces, it was a high-octane affair. But Miller’s contribution to the fray won out.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s cool that we won a district game after losing last year against Harriton, because that was difficult for me sitting on the sideline watching that.”

Comments

comments

image_pdfimage_print
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nine + 9 =

Recent News

More in Fall Sports