EAST ROCKHILL >> The wet weather Wednesday afternoon wasn’t a problem for Bailey Moyer.
“I like rain games,” the Central Bucks West junior defender said. “I think they’re fun. Just adds to the high school game.”
It helped that during the intermittent downpours, Moyer tallied the only goal in the Bucks boys soccer team’s Suburban One League Continental Conference matchup with host Pennridge, scoring with less than six minutes left in regulation to give West a 1-0 win at Helman Field.
“It’s been a very strange start to the season with delays and playing through various weather conditions. But both teams got to deal with it,” CB West coach Stefan Szygiel said. “I think that was a grind by both teams and I think that was going to be a 1-0 game somebody and luckily we came out 1-0.”
Moyer came close in the first half to breaking through but had his tap-in into the net was called off due to offsides while his header off a Reed Sturza cross was directed just to the left of the goal.
Moyer finally put the Bucks out in front at the 5:22 mark of the second half off a ball play by Nick Centenera. Moyer knocked a right-footed shot over Rams keeper Matt Sheldon and into the right opposite corner.
“We had high pressure the whole game and it was working well. Someone finally got a chance, we played one over the top and I was in the right place at the right time and I finished,” Moyer said.
The strike gave Central Bucks West (4-1-0, 3-0-0 SOL Continental) its third straight victory — all by shutout.
“With this group, with this team, there’s a lot of balance. So a lot of pressure, a lot of volume, just generating chances either in the run of play or on set-piece situations. Yeah, looking for a guy to step up in the box and get a finish and luckily that was Bailey today.”
While the loss was the first this season for Pennridge (4-1-0, 1-1-0) Rams coach Pete Valimont felt a close battle with West — which advanced to the PIAA-4A semifinals last season — sends a message his side can be a contender. Pennridge finished in last place in the SOL Continental in 2017 and has not made the district playoffs since 2015.
“So we’re 75 minutes in, 0-0 with CB West and we unfortunately didn’t clear it properly and they put a ball back in and found a kid that had a little bit of space and he was able to bury it” Valimont said. “Nothing was what we didn’t expect. We had them scouted, they’re terrifically coached, they’re a good team, they’re getting a lot of recognition from their run they had last year, rightfully so.
We’ve had success earlier on and hopefully this puts us a little bit more respect around the area. They didn’t come in here and walk all over us, we played really good soccer.”
Wednesday’s contest began dry but by the later stages of the first half a heavy rain began to fall with the precipitation stopping and starting throughout the rest of the game.
“It didn’t end up hurting us, but at the same time it’s not an excuse because they’re doing the same thing,” Valimont said. “And quite honestly, we’re going to have another five, six games just like this. So it’s something to happen early on, use it as a reference early in the season to look back at to build off of.”
Pennridge stays in SOL Continental play Friday when it hosts Central Bucks South at 3:30 p.m.
The Bucks step out of conference Saturday to host Downingtown West at 2 p.m. CB West next Continental game is Monday at home against North Penn at 7 p.m.
“The first go-around where you have those six games where you see everyone for the first time, cause everyone gets better the second time later in the season,” said Szygiel of the early potion of the conference schedule. “Everyone tightens up, makes some adjustments tactically, personnel-wise. So the second go-around is much harder than the first. So, you got to nab these points now.”
Pennridge’s best chance to break the scoreless tie came on a counterattack in the second half. Matt Stevenson got free down the left flank and put a low shot on goal only for West netminder Dylan Smith to deny it with a diving kick save. The ball, however, slid to the Rams’ Marco Grenda at the far right post but Grenda could not get off a shot and the ball was sent out of danger by Centenera.
The Bucks had a scoring opportunity earlier in the second half on a free kick 22 yards out but Carson Snyder’s shot on goal was stopped by a diving Sheldon, the ball going out for a corner. Moyer directed a header toward the net on the ensuing corner, but it was saved by Sheldon — the balling slipping free from the keeper for a moment before Sheldon corralled it.