BERNVILLE >> The penalty kick may be the biggest dice roll in all of sport.
After 110 minutes of soccer failed to produce a result Saturday evening, that’s what was left to decide Central Bucks West’s fate in the PIAA playoffs.
The Bucks survived.
Junior midfielder Colin Burn buried the decider to send CB West on to the state 4A semifinals when his boot beat Cumberland Valley goalkeeper Matt Zambetti to the lower left corner. It clinched the session in his club’s favor, 4-2, after regulation and two overtimes failed to see a goal scored at Tulpehocken High School.
CB West, the No. 4 seed out of District 1, will face Conestoga in the state semifinals on Tuesday. CV’s was District 3’s second-seeded club.
With the PK session tied at 2, CV’s Eric Leach and Max Radosavljevic missed on consecutive chances while Tarin Morris, West’s third shooter, converted in-between to give the Bucks a 3-2 edge. Leach’s attempt was rejected on a diving stop by West keeper Dylan Smith; Radosavljevic’s sailed over the crossbar.
It is not the way anyone wants to see a season hang in the balance, but the Bucks produced the steely nerve needed to see it through and fight another day.
“PKs, I think, is a maturity thing,” CB West coach Stefan Szygiel said. “It’s players being able to step up, take a breath and do the job. And they can go either way. You can practice them all you want, you’ve still got to deal with the pressure and the nerves and tonight, we came out on the right side of it.”
The contest was largely a stalemate between two stout defenses anchored by two talented keepers in Smith and Zambetti. Space was hard to come by; nary a thru-ball was to be had. Creativity was stifled by two clubs who knew how to snuff it out.
Despite this, the Bucks had the two best chances to end this thing in regulation: A carom off CV defender Eli Garcia in the 31st minute just to the right of Zambetti that required cat-like reflexes to snare it, and a 78th-minute shot produced from desperate chaos in the box that clanged off the right post. Garcia was injured during that scrum and ended up in the net. He was unable to put weight on his right leg and had to depart the game.
“Both teams defended well, I think (CV) did a phenomenal job not allowing spaces and gaps for us to get through,” Szygiel said. “We had a few good chances, but their goalkeeper (Zambetti) was incredible. Some scrums in the box, they were able to clear them off the line. That’s the sign of a team who’s here for a reason.
“I think we were a little off in terms of our midfield connection into the offensive third. I don’t think we created as many chances as we usually do but I think that’s also a credit to the way they defended us.”
Conversely, CV was unable to unlock West.
“It’s a big surface here (Tulpehocken), it’s a big, wide field and we kept the lines tight,” Szygiel said. “We made them play in front of us and make them go side-to-side. I don’t think we gave them any opportunities to penetrate and get behind us.”
The Eagles managed five shots on target in 110 minutes against Smith but none were taxing. West peppered Zambetti with eight, six of which produced garden-variety stops.
CB West 0, Cumberland Valley 0
West wins on PKs, 4-2
Shots on goal: CBW 8, CV 5
Corners: CBW 10, CV 4
Saves: CBW (Dylan Smith) 5, CV (Matt Zambetti) 8.