Pohle, Durham send Abington past Garnet Valley in District 1-AAA opener

ABINGTON >> The course of events that led to Robby Durham’s header in overtime Tuesday almost seem impossible to replicate.

In the end, it didn’t matter because that string of moments had come together exactly the right way the one time Abington needed them to. As unexpected and wild as it may have been, Durham was in exactly the right spot at the right time and because he was, the Galloping Ghosts are moving on in the District 1-AAA boys’ soccer tournament.

Durham’s picturesque header handed No. 7 Abington a 1-0 golden goal overtime win against No. 26 Garnet Valley at Memorial Field thanks to a snap decision and a beautiful cross by David Pohle.

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Robby Durham heads the ball into the Garnet Valley net giving Abington the win in overtime Oct. 27, 2015.
Robby Durham heads the ball into the Garnet Valley net giving Abington the win in overtime during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

“I just stuck my head in and headed the ball into the net because Dave crossed it to me,” Durham said. “That’s all there was to it.”

Durham, who was in as much shock as he was elated, oversimplified things just a bit. But to get to his moment of theatrics, the Ghosts had to survive a rather subpar effort on their end.

Despite their seeding, the Jaguars were an imposing group, with some big, physical players in key spots around the field. That, coupled with Abington continuing to force things that just weren’t working, made for a lack of scoring chances and an overall less-than-stellar looking game.

On Abington’s side, the ball kept finding its way to the middle of the park, where Garnet Valley could put numbers behind it and slow things to a slog. Link up play and communication between Abington’s midfield and forwards was off through the first half and into the second.

But their defense was able to match the physical challenge presented by the Jags.

“We just wanted to put a man on their big kid,” senior center back Aiden Coyle said. “I would just stay behind them and if anything went behind I could go back and take it from them.”

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Garnet Valley's Jacob Schwein grabs a handful of Abington midfielder Jason Gale's shirt Oct. 27, 2015.
Garnet Valley’s Jacob Schwein grabs a handful of Abington midfielder Jason Gale’s shirt during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

One of Abington’s assistant coaches noted a jarring similarity in how direct both teams wanted to play and Garnet Valley rarely drifted out to the flanks, opting to pound the ball up the middle. Given the size and strength in their forwards and central midfield, it seemed sound, but Abington is a team that doesn’t mind mixing it up.

Coyle said the Ghosts had aligned their back line like an accordion, so if one pushed up, the rest could drop back behind the ball.

“We did not play our best,” Abington coach Randy Garber said. “The players know it and we know it and we’re very fortunate. (Garnet Valley) is a good team, they’re very well coached and it’s a tough loss for them. I told the boys the first round of the playoffs is the toughest round, to get the butterflies out and used to the pressure.”

While the first half hadn’t been particularly noteworthy, both squads perked up after the break. Abington started to create more shots, the problem was nearly all of them were off-target.

With 10:58 left in regulation, Abington striker Matt Bachman was dragged down in the box, a delayed whistle giving the Ghosts a penalty kick. The shot was well-taken, but Jags keeper Ben Schelberg made a nice save on it, going to ground and corralling the ball.

Garnet Valley nearly ripped the Ghosts’ hearts out a few minutes later. The back line got caught flat when a through ball sent Evan Williams in with keeper Sam Wells in no-man’s land. Williams took a rip that somehow sailed wide of the gaping net.

Bob Raines--Montgomery Media Abington players swamp Robby Durham after he score in overtime to beat Garnet Valley Oct. 27, 2015.
Abington players swamp Robby Durham after he scored in overtime to beat Garnet Valley during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (Bob Raines/Montgomery Media)

“When they missed that, I though nothing is going for them,” Coyle said. “This has got to be our game.”

Early in the overtime period, Juan Castillo sent a booming cross across goal that Bachman went up for but couldn’t connect on. The senior fell hard, and while he got up and walked off on his own, he had to come off, summoning Durham off the bench.

Garnet Valley made a foray down the field that was fended off by Abington to earn a goal kick as the Ghosts tried to get Bachman back in for Durham. But because Bachman wasn’t at midfield in time, he wasn’t allowed to sub on, leaving Durham on the field as the ball restarted.

“The referee said no, otherwise (Bachman) would have been back out on the field,” Garber said.

The ball found its way to the right side at Pohle’s foot and the senior found himself with a split-second decision to make. He could let it go out for a throw, or try to make a move and get further up the touchline.

He chose to go for it.

“The whole time I had been told to get the ball wide and put it in the box,” Pohle said. “I saw an opportunity to make a nice move, use my skill and try and pick somebody out.”

Pohle said he felt all game that Abington just needed to get one good ball outside and play it back in the box. As it turned out, it was his cross that did just that.

The senior struck a gorgeous cross that went all the way to the far post where Durham waited.

“We talked about trying to catch the goalkeeper on his line and that’s pretty much what happened,” Garber said. “He stayed pretty much on his line and didn’t come out to play the ball. I don’t think Robby was that far off the goal line when he headed the ball, he was pretty much on the line when he headed the ball.”

“I can’t take any credit,” Durham said. “I just stuck my head in and it happened the way it did. I can’t take credit, it’s all going to my teammates.”

Abington hosts No. 10 Upper Dublin in the second round Thursday. Coyle heaped praise on Alex Vitek for his continual support from the bench while Pohle and Durham singled out the hard working midfield duo of Jason Gales and Connor Gallagher.

The first round of the playoffs is a test, and thanks to a miraculous string of events, Abington passed it.

“Robby was in the right place at the right time,” Garber said. “We might be still playing.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply