Great Valley returns to district final

Souderton — Throughout the District 1 Class AAA Boys Soccer Tournament, 15th-seeded Great Valley has proved to be the Cinderella team in the bracket. Entering Thursday’s semifinal against No. 3 Wissahickon, the Patriots won three road playoff games, knocked off second-seeded Neshaminy, and clinched a berth in the PIAA playoffs.

Their magical October continued as Mike Carrigan scored the game’s lone goal in the first half to help defeat the Trojans, 1-0 at Souderton High School. The win allows Great Valley to defend its district title against against Central Bucks East on Saturday at Souderton at 4 p.m..

Eight minutes into the game, the Patriots used their speed to generate an excellent offensive rush. Jack Hajnik broke past the defense, and fired a shot on goalkeeper John Carrozza, who made the save but left a big rebound that Carrigan took advantage of to give the Patriots an early lead.

“Jack broke free through the defense. He really did most of the work. I just followed the play up because the keeper drew out. I thought it would ricochet out, and it did at the six, and I just finished,’ Carrigan said.

Both teams had numerous chances but Patriots’ goalkeeper Aiden Claffey played one of his best games of the season, making 11 saves to earn the shutout.

“It wasn’t just me tonight. Our team did a great job clearing the balls out the last 10 minutes when the pressure increased. All around it was just some great team defense. They made my job easy tonight,’ Claffey said.

Not only was it a back and forth game, but it also was a heated game. Both teams exchanged words but Great Valley’s coach Dave Moffett did a stellar job keeping his team focused.

“It is a culmination of the entire season, everything we have talked about, keeping composure and staying in the moment. You can’t let those things get to you in a big game like tonight. It pays off to play above it, and I am so proud of my team for sticking to our principles,’ Moffett said.

It has been a wild ride for Moffett’s team, but they are keeping their eyes towards Central Bucks East.

“We will enjoy this game tonight. But tomorrow, we will analyze and start to prepare for next game. It is the mental part of getting up and then calming down that can be tough, but our team has done it now and we have great leadership. We will be ready to go,’ Moffett said.

Wissahickon controlled the pace of the second half, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard. They will return Saturday to take on Unionville in the third-place consolation game at Souderton at 2 p.m.

“We made a great achievement getting this far, but we are not ready to go home,’ Wissahickon coach Stuart Malcom said. “We got ourselves in a game tonight where we could not take advantage of opportunities. We have to get better and move forward.’

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