DOYLESTOWN — The North Penn boys soccer team rolled to a 3-0 Suburban One League Continental Conference victory Thursday afternoon over Central Bucks West, courtesy of a persistent and lengthy offensive attack and an air-tight defense.
The Knights dominated time of possession from early in the first half until midway through the second, executing crisp passes and working in close to the Central Bucks net. It was the right corner that yielded the opportunities for the Knights, as all three of their goals came as the result of crosses from the wide right that found their targets in front of the net.
“This is just about an 80-yard wide field and you have to play wide on it,’ said North Penn head coach Paul Duddy. “Whether it was right or left we were trying to not go up the middle and just get the ball out in the space. We were just stressing to get the ball wide on the big field.’
The strategy worked, and it worked almost immediately.
In the ninth minute of play in the first half, Kyle Shue sent a cross from the right side that went skipping in front of the net and out the far side. The ball took a high bounce, and midfielder Brad Deckel was able to head it past goaltender Daniel Merritt for what would be the first North Penn goal — and the only one they would need.
With the win, North Penn improves to 3-1-0 in the conference (3-2-0 overall), while Central Bucks West evens up at 2-2 in Continental play (3-2-1 overall).
Deckel was a spark on offense for the entire game and contributed greatly to the North Penn scoring chances. The senior captain took charge on attack, using his evasive footwork to open up passing lanes so he could connect with his forwards in close to the net.
“He is very good in the air and is quick on the ball so he creates a lot,’ Duddy said.
The Knights found continued success with their mode of attack in the second half, and it did not take them long to find another goal.
Less than a minute into the half, sophomore Mike Kohler sent a well-struck cross from the right side and hit a streaking Dan Burgoyne in front, who netted the goal and extended the North Penn lead to 2-0.
Just over 10 minutes later, senior Nick Miller worked the ball into the corner again, this time following a North Penn free kick. His cross came out the far side near the left post, but Kohler was there to center it back in front for Owen Nakatani, who had just been substituted into the game minutes prior. Nakatani tapped the ball on the ground just inside the left post for the third and final goal of the game for the Knights.
“We knew that we had a wide field and we needed to use the width in our attack, so the wider we got the more spread out they came,’ Deckel said. “When we served balls in, they had less people in the box.’
Meanwhile, CB West struggled to mount much offensively throughout the game. At times, the Bucks showed glimpses of sound ball movement in the offensive zone, but were often stripped of the ball upon arrival into Knights territory.
One of Central Bucks West’s best scoring chances came two minutes into the game when Joel Acaster ripped a left-footed shot that hooked towards the right corner of the North Penn goal, but it was saved by goalkeeper Jordan Katz. From that point until a cross in front of the net in the 31st minute, CB West did not get near the Knights’ goal at all.
“There wasn’t anything tactically wrong, (or) positionally,’ Central Bucks West head coach Stefan Szygiel said. “(Just) no heart and energy. The last 15 minutes were the best 15 minutes for us.’
In those last 15 minutes, CB West had several odd-man rushes and prime scoring chances, but were shut down by superb goaltending, preserving the shutout for North Penn.