Abington starts second half strong, bests Upper Dublin in season opener

ABINGTON >> Abington’s coaches stress playing strong in the minutes immediately after the Ghosts score a goal.

After Liam Hartman gave Abington a lead in the first minute of the season-opener against Upper Dublin Tuesday night, the Cardinals bounced back and Sean Seabrook tied the game 68 seconds later.

When the Ghosts broke the one-all tie less than 90 seconds into the second half, they kept their foot on the gas. Arsene Bado gave Abington the lead and three-and-a-half minutes later Steven Fajardo found the back of the net and the Ghosts were on their way to a 3-1 Suburban One League Liberty Division win at Abington Senior High School.

“After we let up the first goal we just were down on ourselves,” senior captain Gavin O’Neill said. “We come out in the second half and we were lighting it up. We were a little more hyped, I guess.”

Bado put the Ghosts (1-0) ahead with 38:35 left in the game. They applied consistent pressure over the first 85 seconds of the half before Thomas Santangelo crossed the ball in front of the net and Bado was there to finish.

Fajardo’s insurance goal came with 35:04 remaining. Jimmy Marino threw the ball into the box from the sideline and Upper Dublin was able to get it away from the net, but not far enough. Fajardo stepped up from his defensive position and calmly put the ball away to give Abington some breathing room.

“(Abington coach Randy Garber) told us the first five minutes would change the game,” O’Neill said of the halftime message. “We had to come out on fire. We can’t let up after we score. We have to be more focused and we were.”

The Cardinals had a couple of chances in the second half, but couldn’t beat Abington keeper Kevin Kretschman. On corners, free kicks and crosses the sophomore goalie got his hands on the ball to either catch it or knock it out of harm’s way.

“After we gave up those two goals we had to play differently than we normally would play,” Upper Dublin coach Andy Meehan said. “We’re used to turf, as well, so some of the stuff that was happening in practice time and training – it was different. We have to be prepared for each surface. We just played differently in the second half. It wasn’t the way we wanted to play. Hopefully we don’t go down two goals in the first five minutes again and have to play that way.

“We just need to make sure we come out each half ready to play as soon as that whistle blows. Today we didn’t do that. I’ll take blame as well because I’m the coach and I have to make sure that they’re ready. Everyone has to do it. Everybody as a group needs to make sure that we’re coming out properly. (Abington) was able to capitalize.”

O’Neill set up the game’s first goal with a beautiful pass up the middle, springing Hartman, who used a soft touch to beat Upper Dublin’s keeper.

“I saw the ball coming down and I chested it,” O’Neill said. “I saw Hartman beaming so I just played him the ball in and he got the goal.”

The Cardinals (0-1) answered almost immediately. Seabrook, who drew the attention of multiple Abington defenders the rest of the night, ripped a shot into the top left corner to give his team life after the slow start.

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