Reardon delivers as Springfield edges Radnor

SPRINGFIELD — Somehow, Jim Reardon was determined to make an impact in his final season.

The Springfield senior is always a vocal presence in huddles and on the bench, for sure. But finding him a permanent position from which he could contribute between the lines proved a daunting challenge early in the Cougars season.

The installation of Reardon in central defense didn’t exactly work to Jason Piombino’s liking. So with Reardon as a man without a position, the coach decided to tinker with him as a forward over the last few games.

Tuesday, Reardon looked like he’d found his place, scoring the only goal as the Cougars claimed a vital 1-0 win over Radnor to edge higher in Central League logjam.

Reardon’s goal, his first of the season, was the payoff for a lot of hard work.

“It’s been hard, but I’ve just been trying to get my spot back on the field and work hard and continue to get more time for myself,’ he said. “It didn’t really work out too well in defense for me. They put me up top, and I just keep working hard and see what I can do.’

What Reardon did in the 29th minute Tuesday was wriggle into the right location on the edge of the penalty area. A free kick from around midfield was played into the box, headed down and bounced around before finding Reardon. Leaning back, he flung out his weaker left foot, trying to get as much of the ball as possible.

That shot ended up careening toward the far top corner. Radnor goalkeeper Ben Toomey got a piece of it, but not enough to prevent it from bulging the back of the net.

“I just saw the ball bouncing in the box, struck it as hard as I could hoping for the best,’ Reardon said. “And I got a little lucky.’

The rest of the result was as much due to the hard work of Springfield (8-4, 7-2) as any fortune. With the lead in hand, the Cougars hunkered down, able to break up just about every attack Radnor threw their way.

Spearheading the effort, appropriately enough, was the player who replaced Reardon in central defense, Ryan Straube. He and the hulking Jack Schott did the dirty work in the air to repel the threat of a Radnor team that increasingly resorted to long-ball tactics in an attempt to bypass Springfield’s compact midfield.

Much like Reardon, it seems that Straube — a natural defender who attempted to move up into midfield this season before settling to a deeper position — is discovering a home.

“I like it because I can really organize the team and really get them going,’ Straube said. “If they need a boost, I can get their morale up. I just like being able to see the whole field and see where everyone is at so I can organize them.’

Springfield’s ability to get the early goal and tactical rigidity in defense laid down a gauntlet for Radnor (9-4, 6-2). For a turf team playing on grass, down a goal, the onus was on Radnor to muscle Springfield off its lead. Despite being the more technical side, the Raiders just couldn’t grind out the result.

“The team mentality overall,’ midfielder Alex Eggs-Krings offered as an aspect in which the team was lacking. “We need to get scrappier and just fight against these more physical teams.’

They had some chances, the best coming with four minutes left before half when Sasha Abadi beat goalkeeper Mike Gerzabek to a long ball, his header clanging off the bar. Gerzabek, who made five saves, recovered quickly to corral the loose ball in the box.

Most of the chances after halftime were generated by Eggs-Krings. His dipping shot just 25 seconds into the frame was caught by Gerzabek, as was a turnaround shot with 17 minutes to play. Egg-Krings headed just wide of the cage in the 75th minute, rising to meet a Max Barish cross. And his header in the final minute, off a frenzied free kick lumped forward, was secured by Gerzabek to seal the match.

The Springfield defense was so solid that the Cougars produced the best chances after halftime. Danny Korinth forced a fine double save from Toomey in the 52nd minute, the first a diving save at full extension to his left to palm away a low shot. Toomey caught a curling drive from Nick Jannelli, who otherwise had a quiet night thanks to the man-marking of Jake Ordonio, in the 84th.

On balance, though, it was the toughness of Springfield that won out, a theme the Cougars hope to replicate.

“Last year, we kind of had the rep that we weren’t as tough,’ Straube said. “But this year, I think we’ve shown it and we can label ourselves as a tough team.’

Also in the Central League:

Strath Haven 2, Penncrest 0: Joe Soffer and Alex Belanger scored on either side of halftime as the Panthers topped the shorthanded Lions.

Cam Ricciardi and Myles Jefferson set up the goals, and Matt Eiel recorded the shutout with five saves.

Marple Newtown 6, Upper Darby 3: Josh Gotlib stopped a penalty kick among his six saves, then scored on a free kick from 50 yards out to highlight an offensive affair for Marple (8-6, 5-3).

George Lambritsios, Kostas Silkas and Hunter Dyson were also among the goalscorers for Marple.

Haverford 3, Harriton 1: Willie Fineberg scored twice, Liam Boyes added the third goal and Cole Mays dished two assists as the Fords came within eight seconds of blanking the Rams.

Lower Merion 1, Garnet Valley 0: Ben Shelberg played well in goal, but the Jags couldn’t top the Aces.

In the Del Val League:

Interboro 3, Academy Park 1: Diego Lopez scored twice, Willy Lopez added a goal and Josh Encarnacion set up two goals as the Bucs rolled.

Brandon Weldon had five saves for Interboro.

Chichester 10, Glen Mills 0: Jared Sullivan scored twice and added three assists as nine Eagles found the score sheet for Chichester (3-8, 3-2).

In the Tri-State Christian Conference:

Christian Academy 3, King’s Christian 1: Brit Haseltine scored twice to go with an assist, and Evan Needs paired a goal with a helper as the Crusaders (9-0-1, 7-0) remain blemish-free in the league.

In the Ches-Mont:

West Chester East 5, Sun Valley 1: Evan Roland scored his first varsity goal off a feed from Josh Lehrberger, and Brendan Skwirut made 12 saves on a busy afternoon for the Vanguards (3-8-2, 1-6-1).

In nonleague action:

Penn Wood 6, Community Academy 0: John Mansaray scored twice in leading the Patriots (9-1) to an eighth straight win.

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