Owen J. Roberts edges Methacton 1-0 to clinch PAC-10 playoff spot

BUCKTOWN — The Owen J. Roberts boys soccer team was willing to do whatever was necessary.

Like Alex Jennion, who was thrust into as many different positions as there are sides to a soccer field.

Or Nate Smith, who didn’t let any running joke of him being ‘ cursed’ linger for one more day.

With a spot in the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs on the line, the pair of seniors did their part and more as Smith struck for the game’s lone score in the first half to lift the Wildcats over Methacton, 1-0, to clinch a playoff berth out of the Liberty Division Tuesday night at Henry J. Bernat Field.

The Wildcats and Warriors entered with matching 8-3 league records, turning the game into a virtual must-win. Owen J. improved to 9-3 in the PAC-10 and booked a spot alongside Boyertown (10-3) — a 5-0 winner over Spring-Ford Tuesday — in the playoffs. OJR and Methacton can finish with equal league records but the Wildcats hold the tiebreaker by virtue of record in the division.

“As senior and captains we had to get everyone ready,’ Jennion said. “We were telling people, ‘ This is it. This is the end of the line. If we lose here it’s done.’

“We had to make this a fairy tale ending, Owen J. Roberts wins PAC-10s on their home field (the playoffs will be held at OJR next Monday and Thursday). That’s what we’re shooting for and Step 1 is complete.’

The did it on Senior Night no less, a fact that wasn’t lost on Smith, his classmates and his entire team.

“The fact that it was Senior Night definitely helped (our intensity),’ he said. “That brought a tempo that you can’t get anywhere else.’

The Wildcats controlled most of the proceedings but it required a second-chance strike from Smith, on an assist from freshman Matt Pron (playing his first week of varsity soccer) to provide the difference.

Pron received the ball on the edge of the 18 and played a pass across to Smith, who slipped on the wet ball while trying to control it. But the ball stayed under Smith and he rose to hit an off-balance shot into the right side of goal in the 25th minute.

“It was a little scary because it rolled across and I slipped,’ Smith said. “But I stayed with it and I saw it from the ground as I put it in the second time. It stayed there and I was able to hit it off-balance.

“It’s funny because I’ve had so many opportunities like that that I’ve missed throughout this season.’

“We have a little running joke that Nate is cursed,’ Jennion said. “He gets these great opportunities that just wouldn’t go in.’

Fortunately for OJR (11-6), which was No. 26 in Monday’s District 1 Power Rankings, the curse didn’t continue Tuesday.

It was a bitter pill for Methacton (8-4, 10-5), which missed in its playoff bid after being the in-form team throughout the middle of the season which included a double-digit win streak.

After a couple of scoreless games, OJR was desperate to up the pace to generate more offense.

“It was in response to our last couple games, against Boyertown and Henderson we were shut out,’ Jennion said. “We didn’t generate any offense in both of those games so our goal tonight was to put a goal on the scoreboard.’

The high press of OJR didn’t allow Methacton and its primary playmakers — midfielders Trent Taylor and Connor Stevenson and striker Justin Ardman — to settle into its possession style and led to zero shots on target for the Warriors (6 for OJR).

The defensive work of senior sweeper Ben Huzzard, goalkeeper Zach Serbin and Jennion certainly helped, regardless of position.

“I moved from four positions this entire game,’ Jennion said. “I usually start at left back, but I started at right back, Jared Cooney sprained his ankle (in pregame warmup) and I get pushed into stopper. Ben (Huzzard) get a yellow (card) and I drop back to sweeper, he’s back I’m back to stopper. I was all over the place. But that’s what we had to do. We lost one of our better players in warmup and the rest of the team stepped up, it wasn’t just me.’

The current OJR seniors were outsiders — playing on JV as freshmen — the last time the Wildcats reached the PAC-10 playoffs in 2011, a year they won the PAC-10 championship.

“I was a freshman at that time, playing on junior varsity,’ Smith said. “This has been my goal (making the PAC-10 playoffs) since being on varsity the next year.’

“We feel like the cycle is finally repeating itself. A couple of years ago we won PAC-10s and I think it’s our turn again,’ Jennion said.


OJR had the best chance at the second goal when senior Nate Raban’s shot from distance hit the left post in the 49th minute. Sophomore Alex Fonder was there for the rebound but his shot went right at Methacton keeper Vinny Tasca (five saves), who played despite an ankle injury that held him out of the Warriors’ previous outing. … The OJR seniors honored were: Smith, Jennion, Huzzard, Zach and Matt Serbin, Matt Hansen, Raban, Brian Brady, Andrew Mancini and Demetri D’Orsaneo. Methacton’s seniors — Taylor, Tasca, Jake Tagland, Josh Reimel, Brian Reilly, Dan Realbuto, Ryan Pellicano, Dylan Gray, Shawn Golas, Brett Diener, Joe Collis, Tony Chen and Ardman — were also acknowledged.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply