FALLS TWP. – Coming off last week’s loss to Council Rock South, Pennsbury was determined to play better yesterday facing the Hawks’ sister school and league leader CR North.
Try as they might, the Falcons could not come up with a goal against the visiting Indians and lost 1-0 to fall to 5-3-1 overall, 3-2 in the Suburban One National League (SONL).
“We weren’t really prepared to play Council Rock South,” said Pennsbury senior co-captain Obi Onuoha. We came out with the attitude that we were better than them and they weren’t going to be ready to play us and we weren’t ready to play them.
“This game, we came out and I feel we were the better team the entire game.
“We had an unlucky bounce and they wound up scoring on us and we couldn’t come up with the tying goal.
Even CR North head coach Joe Stackhouse admitted the Indians were fortunate to be leaving the Falcons’ field with their sixth league win of the season. The coach added the win was his first in six years over Pennsbury on the Falcons’ home turf.
“We stole one,” stated Stackhouse. “We played a much better second half but the first half we were sluggish.”
Coming off a recent loss to SOL Continental rival CB East, the coach said the Rock is still hampered by injuries and a flu bug that has been circulating among the Indians. In this game, both senior midfielders Jessie Moldovsky (ankle) and Conor O’Donnell were unable to play.
After escaping the first half deadlocked in a scoreless draw, CR North senior MF Jon Pugh got his foot on a cross and sent it into the back of the net just two minutes after the intermission. That finally tilted the field back in the Indians’ direction.
Awarded a free kick from the 40 with 26 minutes remaining in regulation, Pugh could not get his kick past Pennsbury junior Randy Dickersbach, who cleared the ball from the danger zone. Three minutes later, North senior Ryan Pave took a feed from junior Sean Finneyfrock and with just one player to beat – Falcon goalkeeper Nate Slotnick – sent the ball sailing over the crossbar from just 15 yards out.
From there, Pennsbury threw everything it had at the Indians and could not come up with the equalizer.
With 18 minutes left in the second half, junior Javier Sosa booted a corner kick across the goal mouth that Falcons backfielder Josh Panero got his foot on but no shot on goal. An ensuing header by Onuoha resulted in only a weak shot in on goal and the save was easily made by CR North goalkeeper Eddy Mancinelli.
Two minutes later, Pennsbury senior Garrett Zeller got his foot on the end of a cross from sophomore Joe Ficarotta on a shot that went wide. With eight minutes left a shot from 25 yards out by senior Sam Beidler had a chance but alas was over the goal.
“Our front three needs to be more dangerous going to goal. We need to put more shots on goal and test the (goal)keeper. We don’t really know what he’s made of if we can’t get any shots on target.
“We do too well getting the ball into the final third but we don’t get enough shots on target
“Our players are too good to not test the keeper in these situations.”
The Falcons’ front three consists of Onuoha, Zeller, and senior Arlyn Buondonno. Ficarotta and Sosa can also be found on the attack wings.
“We have a lot of talented players up top and it’s just not acceptable to not be putting the goalie under some stress.”
In the closing moments of the contest, Beidler sent a pass forward with Obi closing only to see Mancinelli get to the ball first. Sosa’s corner kick with two minutes left connected with no one, thanks to the Indian defense. And a bicycle kick by Beidler in the final minute went sailing high and wide.
“We knew we had to keep (number) 11 (Onuoha) and 10 (Sosa) off the ball, which we did a pretty good job of for the most part,” said Stackhouse.
“We did what we had to do across the back and Eddy (Mancinelli) did a great job in goal – calmed everybody down, took his time and ate the clock up.”
Over the previous weekend, Pennsbury tied Downingtown West 1-1 while CR North lost 2-0 to CB East, a District 1 quarterfinalist in 2016.
“We have to start winning some of these out-of-league games. We’re 0-3 outside the league.”
The coach says it’s a matter of getting everyone back on the field.
“When we have everybody like we had in the Abington game, we do well,” said Stackhouse
“We had time to game-plan for them; we had seen them play Neshaminya couple night’s prior.
“When we put that all together we really play well.”
The battle between North and South for the Unity Cup is on the near horizon. Set for Wednesday, Oct. 4 at Walt Snyder Stadium, the Indians will square off against the Golden Hawks at 5:15 p.m.
Before that, the girls field hockey teams will do battle at 3:30 and after the boys soccer game, the girls soccer teams will face one another at 7 p.m.
Council Rock North 1, Pennsbury 0
(Sept. 26 at Pennsbury)
CR NORTH (6-3, 6-0: SONL) 0 1 – 1
PENNSBURY (5-3-1, 3-2: SONL) 0 0 – 0
SECOND-HALF GOAL: Jon Pugh (CRN) unassisted, 42nd minute.
SHOTS: CRN 5, Pennsbury 8
SAVES: Ed Mancinelli (CRN) 4; Nate Slotnick (P) 0.