Hoxha’s header vaults Upper Dublin over Wissahickon, to top of SOL American

UPPER DUBLIN >> The Upper Dublin and Wissahickon boys soccer squads battled into a second overtime Monday, with the winner looking to climb toward the top of the Suburban One League American Conference.

Fittingly, UD senior Kevin Hoxha rose above the Trojan defense on a 94th minute corner to give his team a 2-1 victory and control over their own destiny in the conference.

“Right when we got the corner I just told Jose (Palomeque) to give me a chance there,” Hoxha said. “I obviously like going up and challenging in the air. The ball just came in…I closed my eyes and I hit it, but it went right in. Then we started celebrating and went over to our fans. It was a great time.”

The win improved Upper Dublin to 12-4 on the year. More importantly on this day the Cardinals moved to 11-2 in the league and in the driver’s seat over Wissahickon with one conference game remaining. The two teams, who are separated by just over two miles on the map, are now separated by three points in the standings.

“I guess the worst we can do now is be co-champions,” Upper Dublin head coach Derek Preist said. “But we have one more game to finish it off. We’ll make sure that we’re not thinking past that. We’ll make sure that we’re ready for that one on Wednesday. We can’t ask to be in a better position – we’re not having to worry about other results.”

Palomeque, who assisted on the game-winning goal, was also credited with the assist on the first Upper Dublin goal after he put a shot on net that was parried away by Wissahickon keeper Brad Schwartz. Jake Rosen was the beneficiary of the rebound, as he buried it 11 minutes into the game.
“I was just trying to help out my team,” Palomeque said. “Because that’s what we do it for; our team”

“(Jose has) been great for us this year offensively, not just in distribution,” Preist said. “He scores goals, he makes goals. The good thing is he’s just a junior so we get him again next year, which is nice.”

The weather was a factor all day, as Wissahickon (10-6-0, 10-3-0 SOL American) created as many chances in the second half as Upper Dublin was in the first with the sun at their back. The Trojan breakthrough came 10 minutes into the second 40 from striker Darien Williams, who put home a quality free kick from Aidan Conway on a set piece to tie the match at one.

The games second goal opened up the field for both teams, with chances coming fast and furious in the final 30 minutes of regulation. A great chance came for Upper Dublin’s Colin Muth, but Schwartz stoned his shot with one hand.

The Wiss goalie ended the match with eight saves.

“We started well. But the big thing, I think, is when Wissahickon got back into the game we didn’t crumble,” Preist said. “I think in year’s past we may have, we may have folded and lost the game. It was a real good team spirit – not only are we technically good but we’ve got a great spirit and these guys are willing to fight right to the end.”

Preist’s team is now tasked with fighting to the end of the season to make sure the Cardinals are crowned conference champions. Their final league match comes against Springfield Wednesday.

“Just take care of business, however we can,” Hoxha said about his team’s goals for the rest of the season. “Just get ready for playoffs and see what we can do.”


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