Pennsbury stunned in PIAAs on last-minute goal by CB West


That’s the only word to describe the state of the Pennsbury girls soccer team early Saturday evening, this, the eighth day, November 2014.

Starting with a late-August win over Garnet Valley, this group of Lady Falcons had not lost a game — not one.

Now, here they are standing on the outside looking in on the PIAA-AAA tournament, having just emerged from a stunning 2-1 state quarterfinal loss to CB West, a team Pennsbury defeated 1-0 in overtime in the District 1 semifinals.

A battle that seemed destined for overtime was cut short by a miraculous shot by CB West sophomore Mary Kate Vinkler, who headed a cross by senior Emily Munchak into the upper lefthand side of the net with just 33.4 seconds to go in the contest.

“Ultimately, it came down to what we’ve been working on all year and that is taking advantage of the very few opportunities that we had,’ said Lady Bucks head coach Jorge Rodriguez.

“We knew they had a backup goalkeeper and we wanted to make sure we put the ball into a dangerous area. M.K. is one of our better headers and I’m not surprised that she got on the end of that one.’

With precious few seconds left in the contest, the Falcons had no time to respond.

The win, for CB West, sends the Bucks to a Nov. 11 semifinal date with District 3 runner-up Elizabethtown, a 4-2 winner over Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) and D-12 champion Archbishop Ryan.

For Pennsbury, it ends a season in which its first loss was its only in the 2014 campaign. The Falcons finish the year at 20-1-3.

“They are a good team but I feel like the two chances they had were very lucky because we had the better of the play,’ said Pennsbury senior midfielder Uche Onuoha. “Sometimes in soccer, the better team doesn’t always win.’

Trailing CB West on a goal that can only be described as a total fluke — Munchak bounced a shot in from 50 yards out that glanced off the 12 yard line and onto the top shelf 11-and-a-half minutes into the second half — the Falcons responded with a volley into the back of the net by sophomore Rachel Beri off a corner kick from senior Megan Engeland with 14:08 left in the battle.

“I thought (their first goal) was unfortunate but it really helped us because we wanted to get that goal back,’ said Onuoha. “Tying it 1-1, we really thought that we were gonna win this game and that we were the better team.

“That header they got from the 18 (yard line) with 30 seconds left was really a dagger.’

With the battle locked in a scoreless draw at the intermission, Pennsbury launched into the second half like a rocket.

Less than a minute in, Onuoha found herself on a breakaway with only keeper Grace Bendon to beat. The shot went wide right however and the sides remained scoreless.

“It was me and the keeper and I wanted to do my best as I tried to compose myself and get off the shot under control,’ said Onuoha.

“It hit off the outside of my foot and didn’t go where I wanted it to.

“But I wanted to be dangerous and keep making those chances and help our team.’

That’s what she did, too.

Moments later, the Falcons middie tipped a shot from sophomore Kelly Amador mere feet from the goal line that went just wide, left. Soon after, Uche crossed a ball to Caroline Foley in the goalmouth, though the sophomore could not get a good foot on the ball.

Pennsbury had numerous opportunities to score in the closing minutes, none more promising than a shot by sophomore Riley Rudd with less than 10 minutes to go. Munchak was right there with a diving save, preventing the shot from ever reaching Bendon, the CB West keeper.

A seemingly innocent play in the closing minutes involving a collision between Falcon defender Amy Blazjewski and Vinkler along the sideline at the 40 gave the Bucks a golden opportunity down the stretch.

Bendon came out to take the free kick and while it didn’t go in, it presented Pennsbury junior goalkeeper Kayla Kunde with a tremendous challenge, one she met with a two-handed save with less than five minutes to go. Luckily, no CB West player was in place to take a shot at the rebound, as Kunde was in no position to make an ensuing save.

Knotted at a goal apiece, the Falcons pressed on, getting a couple of opportunities of their own in the closing minutes including one that presented itself on a throw-in by Onuoha. While Engeland got a foot on the ball, she wasn’t in the right position for a good-angled shot and the moment passed — like Pennsbury’s season — in an instant.

NOTES: The loss by the Falcons ends the careers of seven Pennsbury seniors including starters Onuoha, Engeland and Blazejewski. Engeland is exploring the option of playing in college and Onuoha says she will pursue running at either Penn State or West Chester.

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