Wildcats hold off Methacton, 3-1

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE >> The individual parts and the whole package are good for Owen J. Roberts.

Now it’s about putting two good halves together.

That’s part of growing up as a soccer team. This young and promising Wildcats club — several players saw significant time as freshmen last year as OJR impressed and qualified for districts — looks to take the next step this Fall, and to do so will require stepping on the gas pedal a little more firmly in the second half.

It was not at all a half-bad performance by the Wildcats Tuesday afternoon as they defeated an also young Methacton team 3-1 at Heebner Park. But veteran OJR girls soccer coach Joe Margusity, while seeing potential, also wants to see more in the final 40 minutes.

The Wildcats controlled play in the first half and led 2-0 at the break, but a bit of a malaise crept into the Wildcats’ play in the second half as Methacton refused to go away.

“We’re still having problems coming out in the second half,” Margusity said after OJR improved to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the PAC-10. “We’ve been in the lead every game we’ve played this year and given up goals in the second half, which we’re going to work on preventing going forward. But a lot of that is mental. You can’t let the foot off the pedal, so to speak.

“And we need to finish our chances in the second half. We had a number of opportunities…those things happen.”

OJR senior forward Emily Kupsov concurred with her coach’s take.

“We usually come out really hard. It’s the second half we have to do better,” Kupsov said. “I think it’s a little bit mental. We’re not focused sometimes. That’s something we need to work on as a team. Start focusing like we’re 0-0 at the half.”

It was, Margusity pointed out, a satisfying win; OJR’s first at Methacton in five years. Methacton (0-3 PAC-10; 0-4 overall) is still looking for its first victory of 2015, but with an effort like it gave in the second half, the wins will come for a team with just four seniors.

“They’re always a good team,” 12th-year Methacton coach Bret Smith said of OJR. “They play physical. We hung with them. I can’t wait to play them next time. Our first-year players are figuring out the physical nature of the varsity level, and that showed at least during the second half today. Hopefully we’ll keep making some small steps forward and start winning.”

The Wildcats outshot the Warriors 7-1 in the first half, dominating the midfield and rarely allowing penetration into the back line. A couple of good defensive plays near the net by Methacton on OJR crosses kept the game scoreless near the 20-minute mark, but it seemed only a matter of time before the Wildcats broke through. That happened in the 22nd minute, when Kupsov fired in a goal from 20 yards left-center after weaving through a couple of defenders.

Thirteen minutes later, sophomore midfielder Caroline Thompson made it 2-0 from about 10 yards on the right side.

Shortly before the intermission, Methacton junior forward Angela Ramsden made a nice long run down the right side deep into the OJR defense, but her cross was captured. That attack, however, was a precursor to the second half; the Warriors would show their speed, trying to get Ramsden in particular with the ball out in space.

“We were trying to play it wide to our outside forwards, who definitely have some speed,” Smith said. “We were working with Ramsden especially coming down the right. We just needed to do that the whole 80 minutes. Most of the second half I thought we had ‘em on the ropes.”

Methacton was much more successful with its offensive aggression the last 40 minutes, getting five shots on goal and scoring in the 70th minute. Ramsden did it, sprinting up the right flank and blasting the ball into the left side of the net after it ricocheted off the hands of goalkeeper Kiera McCloud. McCloud did make a couple of great saves a few minutes earlier.

So now it was 2-1 with 10 minutes left in regulation. Methacton was back in it, but not for long.

Less than two minutes later, OJR made it 3-1. Applying lots of pressure on the Warriors’ defense, the Wildcats basically iced it when senior Hanna Glass deposited a rebound shot.

It was a decent finish in the last few minutes for OJR. Now it’s just about making progress at the start of the second half. In one sense the shoe’s on the other foot this season. Last year the Wildcats often were in comeback mode; this year they’re getting out to leads and learning how to build on them.

“I think we have a lot of room to improve,” Kupsov added. “We’re young, so it’s hard to understand when we’re in the lead. Last year we came back a lot. They need to realize we need to focus more, and when we do we’ll be more successful.”

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