EAST ROCKHILL >> It’s been a while since the Pennridge boys soccer team celebrated a win over Central Bucks East.
But when the ball bounced to Sebastian Perkowski with an open goal right in from of him Tuesday afternoon, the senior knew that stretch of futility was over.
“I saw the ball and I knew we were going to win,” he said.
The visiting Patriots cleared the ball off the goal line, but it was sent right to an incoming Perkowski, who knocked it into the back of the net at 5:13 in overtime as the Rams ended a 12-game losing streak to its Suburban One League Continental Conference rival with a 1-0 victory at Helman Field.
“I think a lot of teams are going to come against us thinking we’re the old Pennridge of last year of 1-10-1 (in the conference). So we had a little bit (of a) chip on our shoulder,” Rams coach Pete Valimont said. “I think it was lot of back and forth. They had some wonderful chances. I mean we saved one of the goal line on a corner which was a point-blank shot. We hit the crossbar with a minute left so we were just fortunate to be swarming them at the right time.”
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) September 13, 2017
Perkowski’s winner was started by a throw in and Matt Stevenson’s backward flick putting the ball in the air. Marco Grenda got a head to it before outcoming East keeper Jordan Geller to send the ball towards the goal. In a crowd of Grenda, Geller and two East defenders, the ball was cleared, but only into the path of Perkowski.
“You got to kind of read it when a lot of guys go up, I usually it just pops up, dribbles to the side, so I kind of just read it and scored,” Perkowski.
Before Tuesday, the last win for the Rams (2-1-0, 1-1-0 conference) over CB East (1-3-0, 1-2-0) came on Oct. 8, 2010 — a 2-1 victory at home.
“When this season first started we were like, ‘You know what, we got really good potentially to win this whole thing right here,’” Stevenson said. “And like I said, we’re brothers and we wanted to come out here and win every game, every play.”
Last season, Pennridge’s lone victory in the SOL Continental in the second-to-last conference game — a 3-0 win over William Tennent — but this year’s group picked up its first conference win in its second try, bouncing back from 2-1 overtime loss to Central Bucks South last Friday.
“Junior class has been playing together since they were five, six years old,” Valimont said. You sprinkle in one or two other kids that play at high quality clubs plus a couple of our underclassmen that start who are 10th graders Dilan (Natitus) and Chris (McKinney) just have stepped up and done a phenomenal job.”
Pennridge stays in SOL Continental play for its next game as the Rams visit Souderton 6:30 p.m. Thursday. CB East is at West Chester Henderson Saturday.
Pennridge struggled to get its attack going in the first 40 minutes but begin to create chances early after the break. A Nick Dunn volley after a throw-in went over the bar while the Rams earned a free kick from 28 yards out but the try was hit into the East wall.
“I think we definitely grew confidence and as we started creating more chances we felt more comfortable, we knew what we needed to do and we executed,” Perkowski said.
— Mike Cabrey (@mpcabrey) September 13, 2017
The Patriots came tantalizingly close to taking the lead on a corner with Luke Schloeffel rising to connect on a leaping header on-target at the goal only for it to be denied by the head of Dunn at the post — the Patriots calling out the ball crossed the goal line but the contest stayed 0-0.
“Nicky did a great job. I mean, he’s one of our shorter players so him and Matty, we just stick them on the post and say keep it out,” Valimont said. “And hand to knees, like give him a hug for saving that one because that’s difference, that’s the ballgame then. That’s the ballgame and then we hit cross at the end, we lose 1-0.”
Pennridge had an opportunity to end it without needing extra time came in the late in the second half. Dunn crossed a ball to Grenda, who made a move around an East defender to get space in the box and unleashed a shot with his left that cracked off the top of the left post and crossbar.
In overtime, the first — and ultimately only — real scoring chance came on Perkowski’s strike.
“There were four or five of our guys there if it did bounce. Ball bounce to the right spot and we were able to finish it,” Valimont said. “I mean it could of happen to them but fortunately this time around it happened for us.”