FALLS TWP. – Pennsbury registered a pair of goals against visiting Suburban One National League rival Bensalem Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 6 on the Falcons’ home pitch. In the past, that would have been enough to put some quit in the Owls soccer team.
Not this time.
Trailing 2-0 at the half, Bensalem (1-1, 0-1) clawed its way back with a header by senior co-captain Alfardy Ali off a cross from classmate Dylan Molina 11 minutes into the second half.
Pennsbury sophomore Nyles Cayemitte – who also tallied the second goal for the Falcons (2-0, 1-0) on a fluke shot in the 15th minute, scored again in the second half, this time on a feed from senior Obi Onuoha in the 63rd minute of play.
It turned out to be the winning strike as, four minutes later, Owls senior co-captain Robbie Montero took a feed from junior German Contreras on the left side flank and blasted it into the back of the net, drawing Bensalem within a goal for the second time in the contest.
From there, Pennsbury pushed the ball up the field and the defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way. The 3-2 victory over Bensalem comes on the heels of the Falcons’ 3-1 season-opening triumph over Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) rival Father Judge on Saturday, Sept. 2.
“They have a lot of intensity and pressure up top,” said Slotnick. “We handled it fairly well but we broke down a couple times.”
Slotnick was solid as a rock in goal, particularly in the first half, making a diving two-handed save on a shot by Ali in the 23rd minute and getting just enough of a header by Owls sophomore midfielder Ryan Antry to deflect the ball off the left-side goalpost in the 37th minute of play.
With 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Slotnick stoned Contreras on a shot from the 18 just outside the right side of the box.
“Nate made a LOT of big saves today,” stated Cayemitte, who fed junior Javier Sosa with a nice pass the 11th-grader turned into the Falcons’ first goal of the season just two minutes into the Judge game. “He came through for us really big in this game.”
Coming off a 16-win season in 2016 and its second straight berth in the District 1-AAAA quarterfinals, Pennsbury takes the field for the first time without the services of graduates Zach LoBosso (Old Dominion), John Griffin, Biagio Lazaric and several other talented players.
LoBosso notched 99 points during his time with the Falcons on 38 goals and 23 assists.
“We lost a pretty talented group but we were fairly well balanced last year across all four age groups on the varsity level,” stated Falcons head coach Tom Stoddart. “We are going to rely on a lot of second-year players – some are sophomores, some are juniors. Obi is a senior but he’s only been (on varsity) for two years. And so far, so good.”
“Zach was a great player but he was definitely more than ready to move on.”
With a dozen seniors on this season’s roster, Pennsbury is counting on its returning varsity players to step up.
And they are.
Onuoha fed Cayemitte with the winning goal vs. Bensalem and Sosa registered the first strike against Judge. A junior, Dickersbach notched a goal and an assist against the Crusaders while adding another helper vs. the Owls. Randy (1G, 2A) is tied with Nyles (2G) in points; both players have four, each.
Sophomore Josh Panero added an insurance goal in the season opener.
Next, Pennsbury travels to Abington for its first road matchup 3:3o p.m. Friday. The last time the Falcons dueled with the Galloping Ghosts was in 2016. Abington came away with a 4-3 victory and it was Pennsbury’s first loss of the season. While the Falcons topped 2016 SOL National Conference champ Council Rock North twice last season, they lost ensuing league matchups with CR South and Neshaminy and finished in second place in the league standings.
TOP PHOTO: Pennsbury senior Matiss Mednis (6), left controls the ball defended by Benalem senior Nick Rock in Falcons 3-2 victory over the Owls Wednesday afternoon at PHS. (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
PENNSBURY 3, BENSALEM 2
(Sept. 6 at Pennsbury)
Pennsbury (2-0, 1-0) 2 1 – 3
Bensalem (1-1, 0-1) 0 2 – 2
GOALS: P — Matiss Mednis, Nyles Cayemitte 2; B — Alfardy Ali, Robbie Montero.
ASSISTS: P — Randy Dickersbach, Javier Sosa, Obi Onuoha; B — Dylan Molina, German Contreras.
SHOTS — Bensalem 9, Pennsbury 7.
SAVES — Austin Shay (B) 1; Nate Slotnick (P) 5.