FALLS TOWNSHIP – When Pennsbury took on Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference rival William Tennent, prognosticators might have been calling for another win for the Falcons.
After all, Pennsbury entered the game unbeaten in the SOL and the Panthers were coming off losses to Abington and Bensalem.
Of course, that’s why they play the game. Visiting Tennent got a pair of goals from senior J.R. McCabe including an empty-netter in the final moments as the Panthers pulled off a 2-0 upset Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 29) on the Falcons’ home pitch.
In a game that took place under cloudy skies, humid conditions and on soaking wet turf, Pennsbury came out flat as a pancake in this one. Indeed, the visitors outshot the Falcons 6-1 in the first half.
“We took the game too lightly coming out,” admitted Pennsbury senior Zach LoBasso. “Once we got going, we picked it up but we didn’t have enough to start out with compared to what they had coming out of the gates.”
Throughout the first half, it was Tennent creating all the opportunities to score. Junior Lorenzo Amaro put the first ball on frame early on then later, it was co-captain Dan Mehaffey striking a dangerous shot in which Falcons goalkeeper Anthony Rosso had to come up with a diving save in order to keep it out of the net.
With 10 minutes remaining in the first half, WT senior Kyle Delevan connected with a ball that got through Pennsbury’s front line defense though midfielder Matt Lynch made a nice recovery, defensively for the Falcons.
The only player making any noise at all for Pennsbury in the first half was junior Biagio Lazaric. Tripped up at the 20 with only minutes remaining until the break, Lazaric’s kick on the re-start unfortunately went wide.
With both sides held scoreless through the first 40 minutes, there was still time for the Falcons to recover after the intermission. However, Pennsbury’s explosive offense – one that produced 10 goals in previous wins over Truman, Neshaminy and Council Rock South – never materialized.
“We knew they were a quick-attacking team that liked to get it through the middle and just rip shots,” explained WT center-backfielder Conner Weiss. “So we worked on keeping the defense tight and keeping bodies behind the ball. Everybody worked hard to get back behind the ball and put their body on the line to block their shots.
“I think we did that really well.”
“They stick to their men and he (Weiss) controls it back there,” added LoBasso, one of the few Falcons who created scoring chances for Pennsbury in the second half. “I think I got through because we exploited gaps that we saw, mainly down the corner. We took advantage of the space down the line and we got a couple chances, though nothing too amazing that we definitely should have finished.
“We just have to create more.”
In addition to a scoring punch that was lacking, a defensive lapse by the Falcons 24 minutes into the second half left Rosso all alone in front of the net with no chance to stop a cross from Panthers midfielder Mike Albers. McCabe made no mistake when he connected with it only six yards out in the 64th minute of play.
“They saw that a few chances that we had in the first half were a little too close for them so they put bodies forward and tried to get a goal up on us,” explained Weiss.
“When they did that in the second half, we found areas to exploit them through the middle. That’s when we got our first goal.
“Once we got a goal up, they tried to get the bodies forward and we just found gaps in their play, allowing us to put the second one away.”
After the break, Pennsbury turned it up a notch or two though spectators never got a chance to see much of a spark from the Falcons on offense.
“Towards the beginning of the second half, they started man-marking myself and (Colin) Marks,” explained LoBasso.
“It’s tough when you are man-marked but our team as a whole should be able to exploit that. When you are man-marking two people, it should leave space open for other people.
“We have to figure out a way to find those gaps when (defenders) are out of position.”
Defensively, Tennent took Pennsbury leading scorer Colin Marks out of the game and kept the Falcons hemmed in their own end throughout much of the second half.
“We let them play balls over the top because we knew that our defense can hang with anybody,” explained Weiss. “We knew we could track them down and track their runners. If they wanted to play over the top, we figured we’d let them because that’s when we get numbers behind the ball.
“If they want to play around in the back, they’re wasting their own time. There’s no need to pressure them too much because they’re not doing much damage back there.”
Assigned with the task of marking Marks were Albers and WT junior Dillon Mannon.
“They were sitting in that hole just waiting for (Marks),” stated Weiss, of Albers and Mannon. “(His teammates) were trying to get balls to (Colin) Marks and I think we did a great job of keeping him quiet.”
For the game, the shot margin read: Tennent 10, Pennsbury 4, though the shots were even at three apiece in the second half.
With the win, the Panthers push their way to 6-4 overall, 4-3 in the SOL National division while the Falcons fall to 5-2-1 overall, 5-1-1 in conference.
NEXT: Pennsbury plays Abington 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 under the lights at Stephen A. Schwarzman Stadium before taking on SOL Continental Conference rival CB South 3:30 p.m. Friday afternoon in Warrington. The Falcons nipped the Ghosts 2-1 the last time the sides met at Pennsbury. Lazaric and Marks tallied for the Falcons.
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William Tennent 2, Pennsbury 0
(Sept. 29 at Pennsbury)
TENNENT 0 2 – 2
PENNSBURY 0 0 – 0
GOALS: WT — J.R. McCabe 2; P — none
ASSISTS: WT — Mike Albers; P — none
SHOTS: WT — 10, P — 4
SAVES: Brendan Hanratty (WT) 4; Anthony Rosso 8