Perkiomen School falls in TCL Championship

WEST BRADFORD TWP. — Kneeling near midfield, Ben Fisher lifted his right hand and slapped the turf with an open fist.

Alex Novikov, laying on his back with his head in his hands, stared into the sky. Novikov sat up with an assist from Besnik Selmani, who dropped to one knee. After both got to their feet, the Perkiomen School teammates embraced.

Jay Yang sat motionless on the bench, his face buried in his jersey, ignoring the post-game handshake.

According to Yang, the Panthers took Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Phelps School in the Tri-County Independent School League championship game especially hard.

“This game meant a lot to us,’ he said.

Alvin Dahn scored two second half goals to lift Phelps at the United Sports Training Center.

The sophomore forward converted on a breakaway less than three minutes into the second half to force a 1-1 tie before scoring the decisive goal with 14:27 remaining to give the Lions their fourth straight league championship.

“Dahn is a great player,’ Yang said. “He has excellent speed and skills. We couldn’t control him.’

Perkiomen School (15-4-1) — which captured the league’s regular season title with a 9-0 record — implemented a game-plan to contain Dahn, according to head coach Mark Longstreth.

The coach called Dahn one of the best players the Panthers have ever faced.

“We were geared to stop him,’ Longstreth said. “But Dahn still scored. He only had three shots on goal, but he made them count.’

Perkiomen School started its initial appearance in the league title strong. Novikov converted a penalty kick 10 minutes into the game.

A hand ball foul against a Phelps School player inside the penalty circle set up the kick, which staked the Panthers to a 1-0 lead.

According to Longstreth, the Panthers’ played their best in the game’s initial minutes.

“We had a couple good offensive chances early,’ the coach said. “We probably should have taken advantage of those opportunities.’

Less than three minutes into the second half, Dahn forced a 1-1 tie by converting on a breakaway. His high shot from the left wing eluded Perkiomen School goalkeeper Ryland Patterson.

Midway through the half, Dahn dribbled around two defenders near the net and defeated Patterson with a high shot.

“Though you didn’t see it (Thursday), Dahn is also very good in tight space,’ Longstreth said.

Patterson, who finished with three saves, turned away a low twisting shot by Dahn from the right wing with 8:11 remaining.

Perkiomen School’s best final scoring chance came within the final two minutes, when Kentaro Masrin dribbled near the goal line and fired a hard shot from the right wing. However, Lions goalkeeper Alvaro Cubero deflected it out of play.

The loss didn’t end the Panthers’ season as the team will face Haverford School next Thursday at 3 p.m. in the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association Soccer Tournament.

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