GRATERFORD >> Throughout the week, the Perkiomen Valley boys soccer team had been keeping an eye on the Pioneer Athletic Conference standings.
No doubt, they had Wednesday’s divisional crossover game against previously unbeaten Phoenixville circled on the calendar.
A quick strike from Mike Weir in the early going followed by a steady game-long defensive showing was key to the Vikings’ 1-0 win over the visiting Phantoms.
“We knew we were going up against a good team,” said Perk Valley head coach Bob McCabe. “They weren’t 7-0-1 by mistake, so we wanted to come out the first five minutes and establish that we weren’t just gonna sit in our own end the whole time and let them just pepper us.”
That approach was supercharged within the first minute of regulation.
The Perkiomen Valley defense picked off Phoenixville during the first minute, as the Vikings then worked the ball in front of the net before Weir finished a shot from Max Chamorro for the game’s lone score just over a minute in.
“It all kind of went quickly,” said Weir of the goal, his fifth of the season. “We’ve been going back a lot on kickoffs, so we wanted to push forward. We had a good ball across and it just sort of landed in my path.
“That gets the boys fired up right from the start,” he added. “It tells the other team ‘We’re here to win.’”
The result sends Perk Valley to 5-2 against PAC opponents and 6-3 overall while they remain at 2-2 amid their division. The loss, Phoenixville’s first of the season, drops the Phantoms to 5-1 against PAC opponents and 7-1-1 overall, while they boast a 4-0 record in the Frontier Division.
For the game, Perk Valley put 10 shots on goal while limiting the Phantoms to just seven. PV goalkeeper Andrew Daubenspeck made seven saves in goal for his fifth shutout of the season — and the Vikings’ fourth 1-0 win so far this year.
“It would have been nice to salt this one away with a second goal,” admitted McCabe. “I thought we had a couple chances to get a little breathing room, but we don’t tend to play that way. We tend to keep it tooth-and-nail.”
Phoenixville was right in it all throughout.
The Phantoms kept pushing the possession, especially down the late stretch.
In the 61st minute, Yair Ibarra had a clear view of the goal from about 30 yards out, but sailed the kick just over the top of the crossbar. Then with about eight minutes to go in regulation, Greg Flamma sent one toward goal from the left side that had Daubenspeck sprawled out for a finger-tip save.
“It took us about 10 or 12 minutes to settle in,” said Phoenixville head coach Michael Cesarski, “but then we started to make a push. It’s tough to play from behind from that early on.
“We typically play against this team (Perk Valley) pretty even. We beat them for two years, last year they beat us in double overtime on a penalty and this year it’s a 1-0 game. So we’ve pretty much been pretty tight with these guys year after year.”
Gavin Perillo finished with five saves for Phoenixville.
As the season’s standings are beginning to take shape, Cesarski was quick to note that he’d love another chance to go up against Perkiomen Valley again down the late stretch. On one condition, though.
“Hopefully we’ll see them again on a different surface,” Cesarski said, adding that Wednesday was the Phantom’s first time playing on grass all season. “I think it hurt us … it was definitely an advantage for them.”
Perkiomen Valley has had pretty good success in busting up team’s unbeaten starts this week. The Vikings opened the week with a 4-0 win over previously unbeaten Pope John Paul II Monday then followed it with Wednesday’s 1-0 win.