Sullivan’s OT header sends Souderton past Central Bucks West

DOYLESTOWN — The first goal of Danny Sullivan’s senior season with the Souderton boys soccer team is one he will certainly remember.

After 85 minutes of scoreless action at War Memorial Stadium against Central Bucks West, Sullivan sent the Souderton sideline into a frenzy. His header earned the Indians a 1-0 overtime win in a defensive battle against the Bucks. In the competitive Suburban One League Continental Conference, not settling for a tie could pay off big down the road.

“Every single win counts,’ Sullivan said. “Our fitness paid off and I love how we came together. It is a big step for the team. Last year I was playing left back, filling a role. This year I am more of a leader and I’m looking for more goals, already ready for the next game.’

A defensive battle is exactly what the Bucks (3-1-1, 2-1-0 conference) wanted, as they had not let up a goal all season entering Tuesday. West knows it needs to rely on the back line and senior goalie Daniel Merrett to stand tall while the offensive executes up top. The Bucks were patient, however they did not test the Indians (3-1-0, 3-0-0) goalie Paul Steingraber as often as they would have liked.

“We are a team this year that has to rely on a lot of team defending,’ Bucks coach Stefan Szygiel said. “We have to be efficient in front of net. I don’t think we created as many chances today as we have through the first few games of the season. We just were not good enough in the offensive third.’

Merrett was up to the task for 80-plus minutes. The Ukrainian senior worked well to communicate with his back line and turned away several strong shots and set pieces off the foot of several Big Red players. Merrett is in his first season with the Bucks, and despite allowing Justin Molyneaux’s corner kick to find Sullivan in the box, the Bucks goalkeeper was strong.

“Daniel does not speak much English, but he is very athletic,’ Szygiel said. “He has a head for the game. He is going to be called upon to make some big saves and he did it time and time again today. And credit to my back line. That is the first goal we let up all season. We should be right in the thick of the conference race.’

“West was very disciplined, stuck to their game plan, and created a lot of problems for us,’ Indians coach Matt Benner said. “To come here and get three points speak volumes of the hard work the boys put in today.’

Molyneaux had a few regulation chances to hit a direct kick or corner, but Merrett was there to deny him. In the 57th minute, Molyneaux sailed a free kick high of the net. The Indians never seemed too frustrated with denied opportunities and played on. The Indians fought until the final play, and on this day, the final play went their way.

“This is important for the confidence of our boys,’ Benner said. “We talk about the importance of set pieces in high school soccer. We were getting opportunities, but putting them away was another thing. Dan has always had good timing and desire to win the ball, so it was really nice to see him and us get that one.’

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