DOWNINGTOWN – Going up against the Ches-Mont big boys on a regular basis isn’t always fun, but competing with class 4A foes certainly prepares the Bishop Shanahan boys’ soccer squad for the postseason.
It was apparent on Wednesday when the top-seeded Eagles opened the 2019 postseason by jumped all over No. 8 Phoenixville early and cruising to a 3-0 triumph in the quarterfinals of the District 1 3A Tournament at Jack Mancini Field.
“We compete with all of those 4A schools and beat some of them,” said Shanahan defender Robert McGonagle. “So when we play schools more our size, we are definitely prepared.
“So having back-to-back 4A opponents is tough during the regular season, but now that we are here in the playoffs, it’s worth it.”
The Eagles improve to 13-6 overall and advance to the semifinals on Saturday against No. 4 Strath Haven. One more win would secure a spot in the district final and a berth into the PIAA field.
“One down and another to go,” said Shanahan head coach Jim Kalavik. “The postseason is a seven-game season for us. We’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game every time.”
Despite falling behind 2-0 in the opening seven minutes, the Phantoms eventually recovered and were much more competitive the rest of the way. Phoenixville’s season ends with a 9-9-1 mark.
“We made a few adjustments for the second half and that evened it up,” said Phantoms’ head coach Mike Cesarski.
“What speaks to me is that even in the last minute of the game and it’s basically over, and we had our center defender slide over and make a tackle. That’s the kind of attitude I want to see carried forward.”
Senior midfielder Gavin Domsohn was all over the field in the first half for Shanahan, and was seemingly a threat every time he got his foot on the ball. He scored two of the Eagles’ goals.
“We wanted to come in with our foot on the gas and we just kind of stepped on (Phoenixville’s) throats,” he said.
“Gavin is a dynamic player,” Kalavik added. “He plays with 100 percent heart. He’s not real vocal but he puts his head down and works.”
It was all Shanahan from the start, with Gavin and his cousin Zane Domsohn scoring just a few minutes apart in the early action from near the same spot on the field. Gavin’s was first, on a blast off a pass from teammate Jaden Jones. Zane then delicately chipped a shot over Phoenixville keeper Gavin Perillo to make it 2-0.
And it would have been worse if not for a save by Phoenixville freshman defender Zander Bernal a few minutes later with the ball on the goal line.
“(Shanahan) jumped on us,” Cesarski said. “They were linking up in the midfield and causing us a lot of problems.
“If you give up two goals in the first 10 minutes, it’s always going to put you under pressure. Getting beat by good goals is one thing, but defensively we made some early mistakes we typically don’t make.”
Gavin Domsohn upped it to 3-0 midway through the half, scoring off his own loose rebound. The Phantoms’ best chance to score in the opening half came when a Douglas Smith shot was knocked away by diving Eagles’ keeper Bryce Domsohn. Brendan Flick got the rebound, but Domsohn stopped his shot too with about 10 minutes on the clock.
“We’ve had some slow starts this season,” Kalavik said. “All week we talked about being the No. 1 seed and that Phoenixville was going to go for it — that they have nothing to lose. And they played like it. They are very athletic and we knew the importance of getting up on them early.
“Our feeling is that if we have the lead, we can’t lose.”
The Eagles seemed to have less energy in the second half and the best scoring chance came when the Phantoms’ Clay Kopko delivered a blast that forced Bryce Domsohn to make another terrific sprawling stop.
“Bryce is one heck of a goalkeeper,” Kalavik said. “He’s going to make the tough saves when he needs to.
“Defensively, we did a really nice job all around. Tactically, we were sound.”
Shanahan is looking to win its second district crown in three years, and will have to beat Strath Haven a second time. The Eagles topped the Panthers 5-3 in the regular season.
“We have that tough Ches-Mont schedule, and then we try to play out of conference teams like Radnor, Harriton and Strath Haven,” Kavalik said.
“When we play the big Ches-Mont teams, it prepares us for the playoffs,” Gavin Domsohn added. “It’s always a grind, but we’ve seen some of the best teams in the state, and that gets us ready.”
Bishop Shanahan 3, Phoenixville 0
Phoenixville 0 0 — 0
Bishop Shanahan 3 0 — 0
Bishop Shanahan goals: G. Domsohn 2, Z. Domsohn.
Goalie saves: Perillo (P) 9; B. Domsohn 8.
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