Phoenixville claims final PAC-10 playoff spot, ends Pottstown’s year

PHOENIXVILLE – The soccer field is not a movie set.

At least it wasn’t Thursday for the Pottstown boys soccer team.

The movie script ending for the Trojans would have them travel to Phoenixville for a win-and-you’re-in match and emerge victorious to claim their first-ever berth into the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs.

The real ending was much more favorable for Phoenixville. Phil Meszaros put the Phantoms out in front and Andre Souza scored a goal in both halves as Phoenixville knocked off Pottstown, 3-1, to qualify for next week’s PAC-10 playoffs.

Meszaros, a sophomore, scored exactly 11 minutes into the game, heading in a corner kick by Estuardo Salazar. Souza gave his team a 2-0 lead in the 25th minute with a nicely-lofted shot from the left side. Pottstown showed signs of life with Sherif Mohamed headed in a throw-in from Jacob Fetterman 4:25 before halftime.

But Souza gave Phoenixville a two-goal cushion again in 16 minutes remaining when he weaved his way into close range from the left side and sent his shot past Pottstown keeper Chase McKain (eight saves).

The Phantoms improved to 6-7 in the PAC-10 (8-9 overall) by winning the matchup of teams that entered Thursday even at 5-7. Phoenixville also evened the season series with the Trojans after Pottstown won on its field, 5-3, on Sept. 11.

“We’ve been talking about this game for a while,’ Phoenixville first-year coach Mike Cesarski said. “Once we lost the first game against them we realized that (Thursday’s) game was going to be basically the most important game of the season. And it ended up working out.

“I told my guys they were going to have to out-work them — we got out-worked the first time at their place — and that’s what happened. I’m proud of the guys.’

The difference in the standings was created by the Phantoms’ pivotal win over Perkiomen Valley, 3-2 on Sept. 26, which appears all the more significant as the Vikings push toward a District 1-AAA playoff berth.

“For a while, in the middle of the season, we went through a really rough patch, losing a lot of games big. To turn it around and get through the way we did was really nice,’ Phoenixville senior center back Joe Dowd said. “In our game against Perk Valley, that was really where we turned things around. Before that it wasn’t good, but that game we turned it around and finished strong.’

Having won the first encounter, Mohamed, twin brother Tamer Mohamed and the Trojans had a positive outlook ahead of the game — played on Phoenixville’s Upper Turf field.

“We definitely felt confident,’ Sherif Mohamed said. “My brother Tamer and I wanted to keep reminding the team that we couldn’t underestimate these guys because every game is a new game. We didn’t come out the way we wanted to come out, we had a slow start.’

The Phantoms were on the front foot from the start, getting behind the Pottstown defense with regularity. But it took a set piece to open the scoring, midfielder Meszaros doing the job. He played well alongside junior Tony Silva in the midfield while Souza was constantly a threat down the left side.

With neither team in position to make the District 1 playoffs — Phoenixville now in AAA, Pottstown in AA — the match for second place in the Frontier Division had a finality to it, ultimately faced by the Trojans.

“We wanted to extend the season for the seniors, but also the team,’ Sherif Mohamed said. “Our past hasn’t been great and our future might not be as bright as we want it to be. Especially for the seniors, because we don’t have a future here (as Pottstown soccer players), and we just wanted to extend our season as much as we could.’

Phoenixville is no stranger to the PAC-10 playoffs — the Phantoms have made the Final Four every year it has been contested except for a season ago.

“I’m glad for the seniors that they have the opportunity to play an important game next week,’ Cesarski said. “Win or lose, I’m happy that we have a game that really matters. It’ll be a fun opportunity.’

A seven-win season showed marked improvement for a Pottstown program — featuring seniors Sherif and Tamer Mohamed, Dylan Mauger, Tyler Keefer and Daniel Tucker — often accustomed to far fewer. But without the movie script ending the silver lining wasn’t evident fresh off of defeat.

“There’s a little bit of satisfaction on the progress of the program, but our ultimate goal was to make the playoffs,’ Sherif Mohamed said. “We were 100-percent capable of it and there were teams that we lost to that we should have taken care of and maybe this game wouldn’t have mattered. But I’m sure a bunch of other teams in the PAC-10 feel that same way.

“This being my last game ever most likely, there’s not much satisfaction considering I can’t extend my season.’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply