UPPER DUBLIN >> Upper Dublin High’s boys soccer team had a lot going for it Tuesday night at the outset of play in the PIAA District One Class AAA playoffs.
The Cardinals had a solid side, a potent game plan and even a premonition or two.
But even with all of that on their side, the Cardinals couldn’t have foreseen what would happen.
What would happen was a second-half goal barrage that upped a two-goal lead at halftime to a jaw-dropping, 8-0 victory over Bensalem that easily propelled the 10th-seeded Cardinals into the second round, where they will meet seventh-seeded Abington.
“Absolutely not,” said Cardinals head coach Derek Priest when asked if he could have predicted the lopsided result. “We played really well, probably the best we’ve played all year.”
Not only were the Cardinals at their best, they didn’t drop off one iota while they were subbing.
In fact, the Upper Dublin subs accounted for more than half of the side’s eight goals.
“We’re deep,” Priest said. “When we’re bringing in a sub, we’re still able to do what we normally do.”
What the Cardinals normally do is hit the midfield and spray passes to the wings, enabling more attackers to join the fray.
“That’s been our plan all year,” Priest explained. “The idea is to get the passes wide. We really only use one attackman in the middle, so if the pass goes there you have three or four defenders able to challenge.
“This way it gives us the time to get our other (forwards) into the play.”
That was the tact the Cardinals took from the outset, and it paid off in the match’s first goal, as Nick Browndorf came down the right wing and got the ball into the box, where Justin Greene hammered it home for a 1-0 lead.
The visiting Owls answered with a 2-on-1 several minutes later, but the thrust fell apart when Omar Luviano chose to shoot on goaltender Thomas Juelke instead of sending in Ryan Molz. The shot trickled wide, and the Owls were thwarted.
That decision was magnified when the home team doubled its lead in the 24th minute as Browndorf scored from Greene to make it 2-0.
That score held up into the break and the Owls looked capable of making it interesting.
But then came Jose Palomeque and his premonition.
First, Palomeque scored in a traditional fashion when he ripped home a shot off a Cardinals throw-in in the 50th minute.
Then, it was premonition time.
“Sometimes I envision my games before they happen,” he said. “And I saw myself taking a shot from a long ways out and it going in.
“And it came true.”
And when it did, and Palomeque had scored two goals in less than four minutes, it all but sealed the win.
“We played as a team,” Palomeque said. “We came together as one to reach a goal.”
The Cardinals attack didn’t let up as Jerry Bardol sandwiched a pair of goals around tallies from Clemente Sass and Josh Saitsky in the final 14:00.
And the Cardinals were headed for Round Two.
As for their second-round foe, Abington, the Cardinals are guardedly optimistic.
“I know they’re a tough team,” Priest said. “They’re a seven-seed, and it’s going to be a tough game.”