LANGHORNE – Locked in a scoreless draw with Neshaminy, visiting Abington looked like it was just trying to throw the ball in front of the Skins’ net in the closing seconds of the first half. With 37 seconds to go before the intermission, a dribbler by Jaeden Joyce somehow found its way behind Neshaminy netminder Nick Walker, who was screened on the play.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Skins forward Jack McCourt got a foot onto a crossing ball by classmate Joe Indelicato that, moments after the game, Ghosts’ keeper Nick Brownholtz was still swearing never crossed the goal line.
Fortunately for Abington, the visitors had junior forward Sean Touey with them on their trip to Langhorne. The 11th-grader put two balls into the back of the net in the final 12 minutes, giving the Ghosts a key 3-1 Suburban One National League triumph over Neshaminy Sept. 12 at Harry E. Franks Stadium.
“They certainly weren’t beautiful goals and it wasn’t a beautiful soccer game, by any stretch,” admitted Skins head coach Tom Foley. “But Abington was the better side; they deserved to win tonight.”
The Ghosts were the better side in this game, outshooting Neshaminy 6-2 in the first half and by a 5-2 margin in the first 30 minutes of the second half, before Touey iced the win on an unassisted goal scored on a 2-on-1 break with the Skins pushing players forward in the final minutes of the contest.
“We were trying to mark Touey out of the game and for the most part, we kept him under wraps,” said Foley. “He turned us a couple of times and got the goal late but we weren’t marking him then; we were just trying to get a second goal.
“When you leave him by himself, he’s a good player and he’s probably going to hurt you.”
Touey got off a couple of shots in the first 10 minutes of the contest, though Walker, a first-year starter in goal for Neshaminy, was equal to the task.
In the 11th minute, the Skins nearly sprung McCourt loose on a 1-on-1 but the Neshaminy forward was offsides. McCourt connected with classmate Mike Mandia in the 18th minute, though three defenders closed to nullify the senior who played last year for Continental FC Delco.
Four minutes later, Indelicato’s free kick from 40 yards out on the left side connected with Mandia, who got off a nice shot. This time, Brownholtz, the Abington keeper, was equal.
In the final 10 minutes of the first half, Indelicato got off a pair of dangerous shots, the first time off a throw-in from classmate Chris Amaro. On the second, which came inside the two minute mark, he gathered in a turnover at the 40 then got off a blistering shot from 30 yards out. Both attempts bounded harmlessly over the net, however.
The sides seemed destined to go into the intermission scoreless when Joyce got his foot on a crossing pass from Baer that bounced ever so slowly into the right side of the net only seconds before the halftime bell.
“They played us tough the whole first half,” admitted Touey. “That goal – even though it was fluky – we knew that it would give us the lead going into the halftime and that would give us a good energy burst that we needed.”
Ten minutes after the equalizer in the second half by McCourt, the Ghosts were on the scoreboard again. This time, Touey got just enough of a crossing ball that came in from the right side from senior Leo Pitkow to push the ball over the goal line.
Walker tied to pull it back – just as Brownholtz had done with the goal by McCourt – but it was too late. With Abington’s second goal of the game on the board, Neshaminy was trailing for the second time in the contest.
Pushing extra players up top, the Skins launched a several attempts at netting the equalizer. The first came on a through ball from junior Kais Jawawdeh to senior Matt Leonhauser. Brownholtz came out and snared the ball before it connected with the kicker, however.
Moments later, senior Joe Brown sent a ball through to classmate Kevin Sheenan, who got off a shot that was again blocked by Brownholtz.
With 2:57 remaining, Touey was sprung loose on a break. While Walker was able to re-direct his first attempt, he didn’t stand a chance on the second and the Ghosts had themselves a 3-1 lead they’d take with them until the final whistle.
“We just never got into a flow,” explained Foley. “We got into position to complete that last pass but were never able to complete it.
“It’s frustrating. If we get ourselves into position to complete that last pass, we’re going to get a good shot off. For whatever reason, we just couldn’t complete it.
Before going up against Abington, the Skins tied SOL Continental Conference rival CB South 1-1, and defeated SOL National Conference foe Bensalem 3-2 while blanking Wissahickon, of the SOL American Conference, 3-0.
“We just didn’t play our best game tonight,” admitted Foley. “Abington outmuscled us a little bit but we’ll be ready to play them next time.”
After taking third place in the SOL National, fifth in District 1 and a 2016 PIAA berth, Neshaminy took the field this season for the first time without the services of midfielder Dan Grinrod and backfielder Dylan McDonald. Both were first team All-SOL National Conference standouts in 2016.
“It’s tough to replace guys like Dan Grinrod and Dylan McDonald; they were the heart of our team,” stated Foley. “Dan had 15 goals and 15 assists last year and Dylan was an all-world defender who covered a lot of ground. Teams couldn’t really figure him out.”
Both players are competing in college with McDonald at Syracuse and Grinrod at West Chester.
What’s more, the Skins have just six players with previous starting experience playing varsity this year including McCourt and Sheenan. The others are senior forward Vince Hosephros, along with senior backfielders Jared Stonkus, Kevin Hanuscin and Chase Rider. For Rider – a forward in 2016, the backfield is a new position for him.
There’s no rest for the weary, not in the SOL. Next, Neshaminy travels to Pennsbury for a 3:30 matchup on Thursday. The sides split a pair of National Conference duels last year with the Skins taking the last one, 3-2, on the Falcons’ home field.
Thus far this season, Pennsbury is 3-0, overall, 2-0 in the conference after outpacing Abington, 2-1, in overtime last Friday, Sept. 8 at Stephen A. Schwarzman Stadium.
TOP PHOTO: Abington junior Sean Touey (22) tallied a pair of goals, leading the Ghosts to a 3-1 triumph over SOL National Conference foe Neshaminy, Tuesday night, Sept. 12 at Harry E. Franks Stadium. Tooey is marked by Jared Stonkus, left and Kais Jawawdeh (8). (Steve Sherman – 21st-Century Media)
Abington 3, Neshaminy 1
(Sept. 12 at Neshaminy)
ABINGTON (4-1, 2-1: SONL) 1 2 – 3
NESHAMINY (2-1-1, 1-1: SONL) 0 1 – 1
GOALS: A — Jaeden Joyce, from Nevin Baer, 40th minute; N — Jack McCourt, from Joe Indelicato, 52nd minute; A — Sean Touey, from Leo Pitkow
SHOTS: A — 12; N — 6
SAVES: A — Nick Brownholtz 5; N — Nick Walker 9.