Quick-striking CB East tops Souderton

FRANCONIA >> A ball anywhere inside the 18-yard box has a tendency to bring Central Bucks East players swarming in a hurry.

It’s a reason Souderton girls soccer coach Chris Gelber likened the Patriots’ attack to a pack of wolves. East is strong, fast and hungry, especially when there’s a ball loose in front of the goal.

Tuesday night, East struck like lightning in a 3-1 win over the host Indians, depositing three goals in less than 10 minutes in the first half.

“The first two goals were a little disappointing, they were off rebounds but that’s (East’s) gameplan,” Gelber said. “Their plan is to dump it in and just go at it. Last year I called them a pack of wolves because it’s so hard to play them. They’re big, they’re fast, they’re aggressive and they just tear off of you.”

The contest marked the end of the first half of Suburban One League Continental Conference play for both teams, with East sitting atop the tables without a loss. To remain there, East (9-0-0, 7-0-0) had to break down a stout Souderton (7-2-1, 4-2-1) defense that had the Indians second in the conference.

For the first 25 minutes, Souderton bent but didn’t break, keeping East’s high-powered offense in check. But the Patriots were also quite comfortable in enemy territory, keeping the ball deep in Souderton’s half and repeatedly testing Big Red’s back line.

“The girls came prepared to play early tonight,” East coach Paul Eisold said. “We had a late-night game last night so we weren’t sure how we were going to come out and react but I thought they handled themselves well. They’re very mature on the ball and going to goal.”

The breakthrough came with 14:34 left in the first half when East central defender Paige Weiss played a long ball out of the back that kept sailing and clanged off the Souderton crossbar. Following the flight was East’s star senior forward Emma Loving, who collected the rebound and tapped it home for the first score.

Not even two minutes later, the Patriots won a foul about 30 yards out and Weiss again stepped up, firing the ball to nearly the same spot. Again it fell to Loving, who settled it but had it knocked away where Hannah Zach was able to collect it and slot it home.

“Paige continues to do all the right things as a center back,” Eisold said. “She’s putting balls in brilliantly. We had four dead ball goals last night and what we had tonight. It’s just another weapon to use in the arsenal.”

The two quick goals caught Souderton off guard, but the Indians settled for the next six minutes until East won a corner kick. A perfect delivery found Maddie Myrtetus, who rose up and delivered a powerful header to cap East’s scoring with 5:08 left in the first half.

Retreating into the half, Gelber had a message for his team.

“We changed the way we’ve been playing for the first 30 minutes tonight,” Gelber said. “I told the girls, we changed formations but I didn’t want that to change the way we’ve been playing.”

CB East scaled back its attack in the second half, given that it had played the night before. But the Indians didn’t take that as their cue to pack up shop as well.

Big Red kept playing, and seemed to get back more to its brand of soccer through the second half. With 11:49 left in the game, Melanie Witter played a tight through ball that found Ellie Andrade, who put a good touch on the ball to send it in for a goal.

The Indians nearly repaid the Patriots with a second quick goal, but East keeper Kristen Obetz smothered a dangerous ball in the six-yard box. The goal also followed two solid chances by the Indians, the first a high shot by Meredith Moore and the other a free kick struck right at Obetz.

While it was a loss for Souderton, they took their goal as a positive as they look to continue their strong play in the second half of conference play and chase a playoff bid.

“The bottom line is, Souderton didn’t quit,” Eisold said. “They came back and got one in the end and I thought they were terrific. They were patient, had a little bit more zest and they’re coming at us.”

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