READING>> As far as scoreless soccer matches go, it was pretty darned entertaining.
Berks Catholic and Twin Valley punched and counterpunched and traded scoring chances through 95-plus minutes of soccer Wednesday night at Shemanski Stadium.
No one could find the net.
That is, until Erich Buekert’s direct free kick from just outside the box deep into the second overtime. The Berks Catholic senior forward leaned over, adjusted his pads, perhaps tightened a boot lace, stood up, paused and fired.
Buekert’s kick, coming a scant 4:51 away from a scoreless draw, easily beat Twin Valley goalie Chris Mundell to his left and was still rattling around in the upper right-hand corner of the frame as his teammates began celebrating a tense 1-0 win over the Raiders, defending Berks 2 co-champions.
“We’re trying to make the playoffs, gotta do it for the team,” an exhausted Buekert said, gasping for breath. “My boy took a good foul there, had to finish it for him. Put it exactly where I wanted it to.”
“My boy” was teammate Evan Slifer, who took a foul from the edge of the box to set-up Buekert’s free kick.
It was night full of excellent runs, crosses and chances, played at a brisk pace throughout, despite the length. Berks Catholic had the better run of play overall, especially in the first half, but Twin Valley was not hesitant to counter when the Saints pushed. And so it went, through 80 regulation goal-less minutes and into a second extra session.
The frustration level on the Saints’ bench grew as the match progressed, as the club could not find a way to get one past Mundell.
“Not being able to finish, it just wears on you mentally,” Saints head coach Brent Fenstermacher said. “It was just frustrating, seeing what we see. We just broke through, finally. Erich’s a guy who’s gonna get for you.
“Twin Valley’s a good team. I like the way they play. They’re aggressive with some big kids. They’re struggling with injuries right now, but they’ll be back. It was a battle tonight.”
Alex Gunderson nearly ended it about two minutes from time in regulation, but a crisp entry ball over the top into the right-side area bounced off his chest — with a gaping net in front of him — as he tried to bring in down.
Twin Valley’s best chance to beat Catholic keeper Timothy Cronan came when Max Hafer’s ground pass to Evan Lawler in the box just missed the latter’s foot, with Cronan leaning, about nine minutes into second half.
“I was really proud of our boys and how the played,” Raiders head coach Christian Murray said. “How they possessed the ball and kept it for a while and looked for chances. We countered pretty well. Berks Catholic is a hard-playing team; they’re a feisty team. It’s good to see them be good again.”
Twin Valley – 0 0 0 0 — 0
Berks Catholic – 0 0 0 1 — 1
BC – Erich Buekert (direct free), 4:51
Shots on Goal
TV, 4; BC, 8
TV, 2; BC, 3
TV, (Chris Mundell) 7; BC, (Timothy Cronan) 4