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After defensive cameo, Perrins leads from the front as Strath Haven wins

Strath Haven's Gavin Birch, left, locks arms with Upper Darby's Jorge Zea in the first half Monday. Birch and Strath Haven claimed a 3-1 win over the Royals. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

NETHER PROVIDENCE – As a senior, Strath Haven’s Nate Perrins has talked plenty about doing whatever it takes for his Panthers to get wins.

Last Thursday, he put that into practice to a larger degree than usual. When center back Ben Wainfain went down with an injury, in stepped Perrins – the All-Delco forward who scored 21 goals last year – backstopping a win over Lower Merion.

Monday, Perrins’ efforts were more customary for his skillset.

Strath Haven’s Nate Perrins, center, signals to teammates Sami Rizk, left, and Andrew Lowman after Perrins scored the game’s first goal Monday against Upper Darby. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

Restored to leading the forward line, Perrins scored twice and added an assist as Strath Haven defeated Upper Darby, 3-1.

Perrins scored in the 17th and 33rd minutes, the latter a superb volley after he juggled the ball to himself on the edge of the box before arching a majestic shot into the net. He then sent Andrew Lowman, who assisted on the first goal, off to the races in the 57th to put the result beyond doubt.

“He makes a lot of smart runs and takes defenders away, which gives us more space,” Lowman said of Perrins. “It’s easier to play balls. … He makes all the good runs. He’s usually in the right spot. It’s up to us to get him the ball.”

That’s Perrins the forward. Perrins the defender wasn’t bad in his cameo last week. Perrins had played as a center back in sixth grade, he said, and he has the aerial aptitude to do the job. With the added zest of trying to gain bragging rights against a number of teammates from his club side, Lower Merion SC, Perrins held the line for a 2-1 Strath Haven win.

“We didn’t really have another option,” Perrins said. “We were up by one then, and then we scored in the second half. I know most of the guys on that team, I play with them on club, and I really wanted to win that game. So I’ll do anything for this team to win, and going to center back did it.”

Monday presented a chance to do his usual “anything” from a more familiar position. It also allowed him to show the deepening rapport he’s developed with sophomore midfielder Lowman.

Lowman set up Perrins’ goal in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Kennett, and he was at it again Monday, hitting a cross-field ball from deep on the right wing to the left channel that Perrins ran onto, beat a defender and lashed home a shot.

“It’s been great,” Perrins said. “Since last year, him coming in as a freshman on this team and not really playing that much, over the summer we really developed a bond playing together and practicing together. It’s been great.”

Perrins reciprocated in the 57th, turning a goal kick into a goal in a matter of seconds. Perrins used his strength to body off a center back at midfield and nudge Noah Atsaves’ goal kick into the space vacated by Perrins’ distortion of the backline.

Strath Haven midfielder Emmet Young heads a ball in the first half against Upper Darby Monday. Strath Haven won, 3-1. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

Lowman dashed into the free acreage, beat the other center back with a good touch and ripped a shot that goalie Phil Nmah got a large piece of, but there was too much venom behind it to keep it out.

“I know (Lowman) is always going to make that run off my back side, but I always know that I have another option toward the sideline,” Perrins said. “I saw that their center back pushed up toward me, and I knew there was space behind him, so I kind of just positioned my body there.”

Strath Haven had the better of chances, forcing five saves from Nmah. Perrins twice hit the post, and Nicky Palermo had the ball in the net in the second half before it was correctly ruled offside.

Upper Darby struggled to create chances. Midfielder Alex Cueva, one of only two starters held over from last season, had a couple of rips from distance in the first half but couldn’t trouble Atsaves.

“We came here with a negative mind and we need to change that,” Cueva said. “We were ball-chasing. That’s the last thing we had to do. We have to work on that and keep up with our marks.”

Upper Darby finally got its breakthrough 10 minutes from time, as both teams went to the bench liberally. Mohammed Mansarsy, one of 18 new varsity contributors, latched onto a cross hit low and hard by left back Joey Vera, and the presence of Majid Kawa, who started the move with an assertive run from midfield, created enough chaos in the 18 for Mansarsy to poke home his first varsity goal.

But that wasn’t enough to keep up with Perrins, who relished his return to the business of goal scoring.

“I prefer forward, but center back’s not that bad,” he said. “It’s still pretty interesting. But I definitely like scoring goals more than saving them.”

Also in the Central League:

Radnor 2, Haverford 0 >> Ben Engstrom and David Azzarano scored, and Jackson Birtwistle set up the latter tally to lead the Raiders (5-1, 2-1).

Garnet Valley 3, Springfield 2 >> Jared Scheffler tallied a goal and an assist to lead the Jags, who snapped a 1-1 deadlock at halftime with two consecutive tallies. Scheffler had the go-ahead marker in the 41st minute, while Matt Ominsky tacked on an insurance goal.

Joshua Williams also found the back of the net, and goalkeeper Matt Ippolito notched five saves for Garnet. Jack Hirt and Colin Rank accounted for Springfield’s goals.

In the Bicentennial League:

Christian Academy 5, Phil-Mont Christian 1 >> Grant Sareyka led the way with four goals, Jesse Brittain scored the fifth and assisted on three of Sareyka’s tallies, and Zach O’Brien made five saves to lead the Crusaders.

Holy Ghost Prep 5, Delco Christian 1 >> Ben Halladay scored and Josiah Bronkema stopped 12 shots for the Knights, but a hat trick by Nkosi Graham got the Firebirds the win.

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