FRANCONIA >> Normally, a team winning its first ever state playoff game is exuberant.
Make no mistake, Faith Christian boys’ soccer team was excited to make history, but the Lions knew they could have done much better. Faith defeated Masterman 3-0 Tuesday night at Souderton.
“We did not look well in the back, we did not look great finishing tonight,” Faith coach Ryan Clyme said. “It was a lot of emotion and then after the first goal, that was it. We played if we got one early that was going to be the win for us.”
Faith did not need very long to show its ability, putting pressure on Masterman immediately. The Lions didn’t even need two minutes to cash in, putting their first shot of the game on target and into the net.
Heys Huber won the ball on the endline and played a short, low cross in front of goal that Kory Schuster got to first. It was the exact start Faith wanted but the energy dipped a bit after the open.
“I don’t think our heads were really in it,” Schuster said. “After they started getting up the field in the second half, we woke up and started playing better. “
After a weak Masterman header was stopped by Lions keeper Caleb Loew, Faith picked up its level and got back into the game. Michael Pearson was an engine for the Lions, trying shots from all over to keep Masterman honest.
Finally, the Lions got another one off the foot of dynamo senior Kazuya Hirano. The midfielder had been close to getting through a couple times but the Masterman backs did well to either block his path or take the ball off his foot.
That all changed in the 21st minute when Hirano latched onto the ball in space and lined up a shot. His effort, a laser from about 35 yards out, rippled the top part if the net as it settled in with 20:50 before the half.
“He’s so fun to watch, I just love watching him play,” Schuster said.
Faith likely could have taken a bigger lead into the half but Masterman was brave in its defending, blocking several takes and battling with the bigger guys Faith had on the field.
The second half was slow on both sides, though Faith continued to maintain control. The Lions just couldn’t get any shots off.
Again, it was Hirano giving his team a jolt, this time on a spectacular series of moves in the box to open space before he ripped one past the keeper. Hirano’s score came with 16:50 left, his 30th of the seaon.
“I’m not a screamer or a yeller but I kind of gave it to my seniors,” Clyme said. “We tried to tell them anything can happen, it’s soccer, it’s the playoffs but after that first goal, we kind of coasted and that’s not what we’ve done all season.”