Springfield gets booted by Wissahickon’s Kropnick

UPPER DUBLIN — Springfield had numbers on a second-half counter-attack when a Wissahickon player delivered a forearm challenge. Chapped by the lack of calls in his team’s favor, Springfield coach Jason Piombino directed a suggestion at the officiating crew.

“You might have to actually make a call,’ Piombino shouted.

“You tell ’em, Peem,’ a fan hollered back.

A lack of ball possession, an overabundance of physicality and questionable officiating did in the 14th-seeded Cougars, who played the bulk of Saturday’s 6-1 second-round loss to Wissahickon without their starting goalkeeper.

Springfield bowed out of the District One Class AAA tournament with top goalscorer Nick Jannelli being held scoreless, goalkeeper Michael Gerzabek having to watch the final 62 minutes from the bench after earning a red card and the Cougars having to play a man down from that point on.

“There were so many calls, each individual one is hard to remember,’ said Piombino, whose team picked up a 58th-minute goal from junior midfielder Maxx Drumm. “The game wasn’t pleasurable. We play physical, and they mistook that for recklessness. We were winning the ball and coming through the guy, and the calls were going against us. Every time we won a ball, we were stripped of the flow.

“This game, it was a nightmare.’

Cole Kropnick scored two of the three goals scored by Wissahickon during a five-minute span of the first half. First-half activity by Kropnick, a 23-goal scorer in the regular season, made the difference.

Wissahickon’s Sam Hunt delivered a through-ball to Kropnick’s right foot for an easy poke past Gerzabek in the 13th minute.

Kropnick scored again, off another assist from Hunt, two minutes later to give the third-seeded Trojans a 2-0 lead. Kropnick’s second goal came with Springfield’s Justin Donnelly on the bench, having been yellow-carded a brief time earlier for persistent fouling. Donnelly’s assignment — to closely mark Kropnick — didn’t go according to plan.

Only three minutes later, Kropnick charged into the box in pursuit of a bouncing ball. Gerzabek met Kropnick near the 18-yard line, where the two collided. Gerzabek was sent off, earning an 18th-minute red card for obstruction. Kropnick never returned to the game, after absorbing a hit to the right side of his head, and Wissahickon teammate Devon Memis buried the subsequent penalty kick to hand Springfield (12-8) a three-goal deficit.

“On the second goal, (Kropnick) ran me over, so I knew when I saw the ball coming in that I’d have to go at it stronger,’ Gerzabek said. “But I won the ball. It wasn’t reckless at all. All I got (from the officials) was, ‘˜You didn’t go for the ball.”

Added Piombino: “It was two guys going for a 50/50 ball, and the goalie has as much right to go for it as the player. … If it was reckless, (Gerzabek) wouldn’t have won the ball.’

In the 27th minute, Wissahickon made it 4-0 on another shot from the penalty spot. That one was the result of a retroactive whistle, after the teams were allowed to play on after a foul. More than 30 seconds later, the officials whistled play dead, convened and issued a penalty.

“They stop the game, come out a huddle, and the official 60 yards from the play made the call for the PK,’ Piombino said.

“We couldn’t really control the tempo and (the officials) gave them three quick, easy calls right in the box,’ said Jannelli. “Because of that, we never got anything going.’

Springfield, a team built upon possessing the ball, did little to play to its strengths. Too often in the first half, the Cougars were caught ball-watching and attempting to stay toe-to-toe with the attack-minded Trojans. Discounting goalkicks, Springfield carried the ball across midfield on only two occasions in the opening 40 minutes.

After halftime, Drumm got Springfield on the board in the 58th. Momentum faded quickly, however, when Wissahickon countered 90 seconds later.

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