Almeida lifts Phoenixville over Pope John Paul II

PHOENIXVILLE — Back and forth they went throughout the evening. A lot of effort on both ends of the soccer field, but no one finding the back of the net.Host Phoenixville and Pope John Paul II battled it out in a Pioneer Athletic Conference boys soccer confrontation at Washington Field Tuesday night.

Finally, at the 68-minute mark, Phoenixville’s Northon Almeida scored on a direct shot with an assist by Estuardo Salazar to give the Phantoms a 1-0 Frontier Division victory over the Golden Panthers.

The shot was initially touched by Pope John Paul II goalie Aaron Lemma.

“The first half we kind of like dominated,’ said Almeida, a junior. “We did have a couple chances, but we couldn’t finish. At halftime coach (Mike Cesarski) told us to outwork (PJP). That was what we had to do. We didn’t do as well as the first half, but I came off the bench and saw the opportunity. We had great effort by all of the players on defense and the midfielders.’

He credited teammates like Phil Meszaros, Ryan Flamma, Maurico Bonifacio, Andre Souza and Salazar with fine outings. Phoenixville’s Michael Stokes was highly effective with his long throw-ins and also had some of his own scoring chances with runs. The junior was all over the field as a defender and forward at different stages of the game.Phantom sophomore Mitchell Coll earned the shutout by making six saves, including one in the closing seconds of the contest as Phoenixville moved to 2-1 in the PAC-10 (4-2 overall). Senior Joe Dowd helped anchor the defense in front of him.

Pope John Paul II used two goalies, Andrew Mattiola in the first half and Lemma during the second half. Each player recorded six saves. Phoenixville had eight corner kicks to one by PJP (0-2, 0-4).

Cesarski is in his first year at the helm of the Phantoms after working with many of these same players at the middle school level.

“Their goalie (Mattiola) had a really good game,’ said Cesarski. “He kept us off the board in the first half. The second half was pretty even. The first half was more us. I am very satisfied with the effort we gave. This was our second game this week and we are 2-0. Hopefully, we can go 3-0 this week (Thursday against Pottstown).’

Cesarski discussed Stokes and the rest of his players.

“The thing about Michael is that he is so natural. He does things you don’t teach. He is an excellent player. We have a good mix of guys from all different parts of the community, which is my favorite part of the soccer team.’

PJP first-year coach Tom Csongradi was also proud of his troops for their gutsy effort.

“It was a good game to watch,’ said Csongradi. “We had a little trouble in the beginning of the game. It was all them until we made some adjustments. After about 20 minutes, it was a pretty even game. After that, we sorted things out. It was an excellent effort by both teams. It was an excellent goal by them. They have some good players.’

The Golden Panthers’ goalies had big games, he said, as well as defenders Jake Bevenaour, Eric Brock, Liam McCluskey and Johnny Warner. The coach also cited the play of midfielders Daniel Jucker, Ryan Milligan and Andrew Snyder.


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