Wissahickon gets through against Springfield-Montco in overtime

SPRINGFIELD TWP. — A top-three state medalist in the 100 meter sprint, Darien Williams is undoubtedly one of the fastest guys in all of Pennsylvania.

While his soccer acumen isn’t quite up to his track accomplishments, Williams had a flash of brilliance late Wednesday afternoon. As it turned out, that little stroke was all, and exactly what, the Wissahickon boys’ soccer team needed.

A through ball from Tommy McHale sprung Williams on a breakaway and the senior put home his first quality chance to lift the Trojans over hosting Springfield Township 3-2 in overtime Wednesday in the teams’ Suburban One League American Conference openers.

“He struggled and he knows that, in terms of putting himself in a position to make it work for him,” Wiss coach Stuart Malcolm said. “I’m hoping he realized the positions he can get into and the service he can get. He looked dangerous today. People can say well that kid’s fast, but he was fast with a purpose today.”

Both teams are breaking in new-look lineups coming off District 1 playoff appearances. The Spartans had to rebuild their defense, with three defenders graduated and keeper Kevin Sykes sidelined by a knee injury. Wissahickon is trying to replace the output of dynamic forward Cole Kropnick along with a handful of other impact players from last season’s state playoff team.

It was a gutting way to open league play for Springfield (0-2, 0-1 conference), especially when the Spartans felt they had done enough to win the game. After playing tough in a loss to Father Judge to open the season, the Spartans still feel it’s too early to panic.

“It’s tough to lose but that’s a great soccer game,” Spartans coach Dan Meder said. “There were a ton of scoring chances and plenty of other exciting stuff. If I were a fan, I would have enjoyed watching that game. We had the run of the play then they had it but I thought in that early overtime, we had the run of play again, we had momentum and two really good scoring chances and just didn’t put them in.”

The second half turned into a maelstrom in a matter of minutes after what had been a 1-0 Springfield lead turned into a 2-2 tie. Wiss striker Blake Geisler tied the game up 1-1 after a chaotic sequence in the box that saw a shot saved and another blocked, the rebound falling to Geisler for the equalizer.

The goal was huge for Wissahickon (1-1, 1-0), as it seemed to pick up the Trojans and compelled them forward the rest of the half.

“We’re trying to find other ways to score without Cole and we really focused on our defense and getting that strong,” Wiss senior Aidan Conway said. “The intensity picked up and when we played that intense, it took us the rest of the way. In the beginning we were just running like chickens without our heads on but when we applied the intensity in the right place, it got us going.”

A few minutes later, a yellow card was assessed to Wiss center back Alex Escude after a foul call, taking one of the Trojans’ captains and their defensive anchor off the pitch.

Despite the card, Wiss gained the upper hand thanks to the head of Conway. Andrew Pileggi played a high, looping cross off the left flank, which Conway rose to meet in the box and nodded under the crossbar.

It was a short-lived lead however as Zach Harley leveled the scoreline off a service into the Wissahickon box. Escude was still off the field due to the card, but once he returned right after the goal, the Trojan back line stabilized.

“They probably don’t feel good about it right now but when we can debrief, we can talk about it,” Meder said. “We started out with probably the two toughest teams on our schedule and maybe two of the better teams in the area. Hopefully we keep improving and find a way to win some of those tight games.”

Springfield held the slightest of edges in terms of possession early in the first half, but neither side truly threatened through 20 minutes. McCaffrey had the only shot on goal, a soft effort that was no issue for the Trojans’ keeper.

Springfield left winger Luke Currie put the first charge into the game, driving a ball across the grass from the flank only to see it clang off the far post and back across the wrong side of the line.

The try seemed to spark something in the Spartans, as Corey Cuttone had a breakaway off a McCaffrey flick but he fired right at Wiss keeper Brad Schwartz. Cuttone had another try snuffed by Schwartz but Springfield was finally dictating the play.

“We played on Friday and lost to Council Rock 3-0 and we talked that we had lots of things to sort out and you’re not sure you’re going to sort them out that early,” Malcolm said. “In the first half, we definitely could have said we hadn’t sorted them out. In the second half, we got some things going and it gave me a lot to think about.”

McCaffrey, a sophomore, seemed to be getting a little frustrated with his lack of a goal. But he held his composure when Cuttone played him in over the top and McCaffrey slotted it home to the opposite post.

While the game got a little chippy at the end of the second half, both teams used the break to regain composure and went back to the back-and-forth style of play in the overtime period. Williams had been close to threatening throughout the game, but finally got his chance in the extra period.

Conway fed McHale, who put the ball through and right into Williams’ path and the senior forward did the rest, beating the keeper then going down with a cramp as his teammates mobbed him in the box.

“I think people may think we’re underdogs because we lost so many people,” Conway said. “But we’re up to the challenge. The whole team, once we got together and started playing, we just meshed.”

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