Scary’s late goal sends Pennridge past CB West

DOYLESTOWN >> There are always a few givens when Pennridge meets Central Bucks West in boys soccer.

The match is going to be tough, it’s going to be physical and intense, it’s often decided by a single goal and of late, usually by a very late score. Saturday, the SOL Colonial Division programs met for the first of two duels this season and the script didn’t deviate much.

Rams senior Ben Scary converted a penalty kick with less than two minutes left, giving Pennridge a 1-0 victory at War Memorial Field.

“It was really a battle,” Scary, a co-captain, said. “It was back and forth, really scrappy and at the end of the day, we knew it probably wasn’t going to be a pretty win but we’re happy to come out on top.”

After starting the season 0-2 with a pair of one-goal losses, the Rams have rebounded to win three straight and went 2-0 this week with a 1-0 win over Souderton prior to Saturday’s effort. Pennridge (3-2-0, 2-2-0 division) played with a high energy all game and while it wasn’t one free of mistakes, it was a good, grinding performance that netted a win.

On the other side, West suffered its fourth straight 1-0 loss to start the season. The state runner-up last year, the Bucks (0-4-0, 0-4-0) have a mostly new band of performers this season and put forth a terrific effort of their own but have been on the wrong side of too many frustrating endings this fall.

“It’s new territory, you’re in every game but the results don’t lie,” West coach Stefan Szygiel said. “You’re at a point now where you’re being tested. You’re in every game but you’re not finishing and you’re not going to win games if they score one and you don’t score any.”

Pennridge has a multitude of attacking options and its midfield and forwards moved the ball around well. Speedster striker Aidan Castle had the best chance of the first half, ringing the post when he couldn’t get all the way around on a shot following a Rams free kick restart midway through the period.

In the back, the Rams worked hard to counter West’s direct approach, but also the Bucks’ desire to isolate attackers on defenders. Sophomore Shane Velez, an All-SOL pick last fall, came up with a couple key wins in the air and on the ground while his partner in the middle Colin Monahan also played a solid game.

“We just played as a team,” Velez said. “We stayed connected, we don’t get on each other, we pick each other up, we’re right there to help each other out.”

Velez felt the team needed a couple games to come together and after the first week, they were able to do that. Pennridge returned the bulk of its starting lineup from last year’s District 1 playoff team and they’ve started to unlock what can make them successful on the field.

Scary said their goal is to funnel play through the midfield and play the ball out wide and up to the forwards. On Saturday, wingers Jake Saville and Kevin Link brought good intensity to the flanks while Scary, Carlos Erazo and Connor Gabel acted as the pivot point through the middle.

“We have a ton of energy and ton of experience,” Scary said. “We all pick each other up and help each other out in every way and use it to fuel ourselves in every aspect of the game.”

West’s second half brought some chances and plenty of the one-v-one scenarios it hoped to create. The Bucks haven’t been afraid to use their depth this fall and the rotation up top gives them some different looks and skill sets.

At this point, they just need to start finishing.

“It’s on their minds so much, it’s palpable, you can almost feel it,” Szygiel said. “Each game has been lost in a different way. I’m pleased absolutely with how we played in the second half and if we keep doing what we doing, it will pop at some point. What that means for this type of season, I’m not sure.

“We’ve always measured ourselves in the postseason and if this is the type of year where a few tight results don’t go our way, that’s how it’s going to be.”

The Rams, who saw their season end at CB West in the playoffs two years ago, knew nothing was decided with Saturday’s result but it still an important win.

“We are very fortunate to get out of there with the win. That’s the first time in a handful of years where we’ve been able to win a game at their place,” Pennridge coach Pete Valimont said. “It wasn’t pretty by any means but we’ll take it. Coach (Szygiel) always gets the most out of his players and has another great group of guys who are working hard and fighting to the end whistle.”

As the intensity continued to build late into regulation, neither team had yet managed to score. A West foul set up Pennridge for a free kick about 40 yards from goal and on the ensuing service, the officials called the Bucks for a foul in the box, giving the Rams a penalty kick.

Scary, who also converted a PK earlier in the season, stepped up to the spot with less than two minutes on the clock and slotted it home.

“Just breath and relax, I know what I want to do every time,” Scary said. “I’m confident that I’m going to bury it every time.”

As the Rams approach the midpoint of the sprint that is the SOL season this fall, they know they’re for a second round of battles with every team in what’s proving to be a difficult and balanced conference.

“We just try to stick it out,” Scary said. “We know every game we play is going to be a hard one, it’s a tough conference and we know if we get one goal in there, our defense will help us out.”

“I think we have the chemistry and we’re only increasing it,” Velez said. “I feel like we’re on a roll and this team is just to keep following that lead.”

Goals: P – Ben Scary (PK).

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