Bojorquez gives Radnor something extra

RADNOR >> Midway through the first half of Radnor’s Central League match with Upper Darby, Raiders’ forward Alex Bojorquez curled a left-footed shot from some 20 yards out. The ball dipped as it flew through the air and seemed to fool Royals’ keeper Dan Lista. But at the last moment Lista leaped to tip the effort over the bar. Bojorquez turned away in disbelief, his hands covering his mouth.

Two minutes later, he took better aim. Bojorquez, a substitute, split the Upper Darby defense and slotted the ball home to spot Radnor a two-goal lead on the way to a 5-0 drubbing Thursday. Bojorquez’s contribution was a welcome boost in what was a tricky fixture. Later in the year it could prove to be invaluable.

“We expected (to have attacking depth), but we really hadn’t seen it yet,” said Raiders coach Joe Caruolo. “It’s good to have people off the bench. That’s something we will need down the line.”

With Bojorquez finding his scoring touch, Radnor (4-2, 2-0) now boasts three forwards capable of unlocking an opponent’s back line. He, Max Barish and Jack Miller combined for five goals and an assist against Upper Darby.

Radnor's Max Barish, right, fights for a header with Upper Darby's Sean McCormick. Barish scored twice as Radnor claimed a 5-0 win Thursday. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)
Radnor’s Max Barish, right, fights for a header with Upper Darby’s Sean McCormick. Barish scored twice as Radnor claimed a 5-0 win Thursday. (Times Staff/Tom Kelly IV)

The trio’s skills complement each other perfectly. Barish, a senior captain, is the worker of the group. He gave the Royals fits with his deceiving quickness and superb balance. After a trying start that included more than one lecture from Caruolo, Barish found his rhythm.

“He has the perseverance and mindset to adapt,” said Caruolo of his skipper. “He started to figure out the game.”

Barish assisted on Bojorquez’s goal then tipped in a corner kick to spot the Raiders a 3-0 halftime lead. He added a second with 17:16 remaining.

Miller, on the other hand, brings height to the equation. His physical presence allows him to find space in front of the back four rather than behind it. Twice he scored from distance. His first strike caromed off a defender and over Lista to open the scoring. His second with 31:23 to go left the keeper rooted to his line. The ball hit the left post then the right before settling in the goal.

“They just gave me space and I took it,” said Miller.

As for Bojorquez, he’s the wild card of the three.

“It’s just such a different look,” said Caruolo. “He can beat you with speed. He can beat you with skill. He brings that different element.”

The change of pace was especially welcome on a hot day on the turf at Radnor High School. The Raiders came out disorganized while Upper Darby pressured early. Jallah Acqui broke down the left flank on multiple occasions and set up Kostandin Gjergo for a chance to give the Royals (3-2, 1-1) a lead. But Gjergo fired high and with the errant shot went Upper Darby’s momentum.

“You don’t want to give a team like that confidence,” said Barish.

Miller struck in the 17th minute and the rout was on.

Radnor’s defense was also terrific in the victory. The Raiders limited the Royals to one shot on goal as Ben Toomey and Henry Cooke shared goalkeeping duties.

But it’s the attacking depth that turned heads — including those of the Upper Darby’s defenders — Thursday afternoon.

“It’s great,” said Miller. “We do a lot of running up top. It’s a weight off our shoulders.”

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