Father Judge edges Lansdale Catholic on Habilaj’s late goal

LANSDALE >> Ryan Magarity and the Lansdale Catholic boys soccer team’s defense spent Tuesday afternoon continuing to find ways to keep Father Judge from putting a ball in the back of the net.

But with about a minute left, LC gave Judge a chance and the visiting Crusaders made the host side pay for its one mistake.

Junior Davis Habilaj blasted in a shot off a free kick just outside the 18-yard penalty box as Father Judge earned a 1-0 win to hand Lansdale Catholic its first Philadelphia Catholic League defeat.

“We’re all just frustrated,” Magarity said. “We played well, Judge played well and just got a free kick at the end. We’re just frustrated because both teams played really well and they had a great shot and a great goal.”

Father Judge (10-0-0, 6-0-0 league) earned the free kick after LC (6-4-1, 4-1-1) could not fully clear a corner kick and Kevin Ceno was fouled right on the edge of the penalty area. Shane Holmes played the restart left to Habilaj, who drilled a shot to into the right side of the net past keeper Jack Kane’s diving save attempt with about a minute left to play.

“Big man Shane was going to take it, I said we’re close, bad angle, so might as well just push it in front of me,” Habilaj said.

It was a tough result for a Lansdale Catholic side that weathered the Judge attack in the opening 40 minutes that played the visitors — ranked second in the latest Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association’s boys large school poll — pretty much even for the second half.

“Their team is very good, they’re bench is great, it’s got to be one of the best benches I’ve ever saw,” said LC coach Joe Wilson of Judge. “So what we tried to do is keep them off the field today. We did as long as we could, they starting subbing six guys at a shot, it starting making a difference. We were getting really tired and unfortunately we got a little fatigued and we mentally weren’t clear in the end there and unfortunately made that mistake.”

Kane made five saves, four coming in the first half, including stopping Habilaj. The free kick strike by Habilaj was Judge’s best chance after halftime.

“Jack was the difference in the first half where we ended up with 0-0. He did a great job, he really kept us in there,” Wilson said. “And the second half, he did a really good job, too. Looking at their numbers or shots, they really didn’t have a whole lot. And that last one, point blank like that, that’s impossible to make that save.”

Both teams are back in PCL play Friday. Judge visits Archbishop Wood while Lansdale Catholic tries to bounce back at home against Cardinal O’Hara in a 3:45 p.m. contest.

“We’re disappointed that we didn’t win that, we don’t feel bad, we’re disappointed,” Wilson said. “But we know where we are with them and we know if we get another chance with them in the playoffs we know how they’re going to play and we know now what we need to do and I think we’re all in agreement on it, so we’re kind of looking forward to it.”

Lansdale Catholic had two good chances at scoring, both coming in the first half. Noah Saba for a moment had a breakaway, but a Judge defender closed in and forced a deflection that went for a six-yard kick. Later, Ryan Carbone unleashed a great effort from long range that required Judge keeper Stephen Paul to parry the shot over the crossbar.

“We wanted to go off to the sides, bring our outside wings in and bring it across the middle and try to score, but they did good defensively, too,” Magarity said.
Judge’s Adam Nork tried to capitalize on a rebound on an Billy Checkovage shot, but Kane regrouped and got in front of Nork, the ball eventually going out for a six-yarder.

Habilaj first good look at goal came when he outran the LC defense for a ball, but the junior’s low shot was denied by Kane. Habilaj got another after being playing into the box on a nice pass from Sean McCormick. His first shot was blocked, but a second-effort volleyed needed a Luke Godzieba clearance at the goal line to keep the game scoreless.

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