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Wrabley, Great Valley defense shut down West Chester Rustin

WESTTOWN – Sometimes during a pandemic, you have to laugh to keep from crying.

They are doing just that at West Chester Rustin. At the half of the Golden Knights boys’ soccer clash against Great Valley, the P.A. announcer said: ‘Don’t forget our concession stand. It’s not open, but feel free to go over and take a look at it.’

It got a big laugh from spectators on an evening in which they were treated to a highly-competitive defensive clash between Ches-Mont American contenders. The visiting Patriots notched the all-important initial goal in the first half and then relied on its defense to hold on the rest of the way to nip Rustin, 1-0.

“We know that every team in this conference is tough and they are all going to be a battle,” said Great Valley head coach Dave Moffett. “So you come in with the mentality that you are going to be pushed. And that one play could make the difference, and we were fortunate in that case.”

It also helps to have a veteran goaltender like Quinton Wrabley as the anchor to a solid defense that thwarted the Knights time and time again. Rustin narrowly outshot Great Valley (11-10) and had a 5-1 edge in corner kicks, but couldn’t get the ball past Wrabley.

“Quinton is incredible,” said junior defender Sean Lock. “If we make a mistake, we can rely on him when we need it. He is top-notch.

“The most important thing about goalkeeping is when to come out and be aggressive, and over the years he’s really mastered that skill.”

The win ups the Pats to 2-1 in the Ches-Mont, with the only loss coming to Unionville in overtime. The Knights fall to 1-2, also with a loss to Unionville.

“You hate to put that kind of pressure on the guys three games into the season, but we can’t lose,” said Rustin head coach Ryan Castle. “When you only play eight (conference matches), there is still enough meaningful games that if we win all of them, we could put ourselves in a position to squeak into districts.

“Yes, this is a young squad and once we click a little more, we are going to win some games.”

The lone goal in 80 minutes of action came midway through the first when Lock sent a free kick into the box and junior midfielder, Karl Brandt, got his foot onto it and found the back of the net.

“We saw (Rustin) was kind of lacking defensively on set-pieces, so I was just trying to whip a good ball into the box for my teammates,” Lock explained. “Luckily I found my buddy Karl and he put an amazing finish on it.”

Moffett added: “In our first two games we went down a goal in both. Our captains were saying, ‘look, we are not going to fall behind. We are scoring first.’ When you do that, it changes everything.”

The Knights’ Richard Park nearly converted a free kick from 33-yards out in the first half, but Wrabley steered it away with a diving save. Rustin also had an excellent chance to tie it early in the second half, but Wrabley was there to direct a blast by Daniel Scoffone wide of the goal.

“(Wrabley) is a rock for us back there,” Moffett said. “He is a four-year starter and his experience comes through. Plus he’s a great athlete so he is able to use his physical traits, and he reads the game so well.”

Great Valley withstood the onslaught just after the halftime break, and then in the final five minutes of regulation, Rustin failed to convert two free kicks, and in the final minute freshman Andy Saccomendi’s break away was whistled down for off-sides.

“We withstood a ton of (Rustin’s) pressure. It felt like we were back on our heels a bit and they started pressing us,” Moffett said.

“I told the guys, you can control 65 minutes of the game but if you don’t finish opportunities, it is the cruel nature of soccer,” Castle added.

“We put (Wrabley) under pressure in the second half. We talked at the half about pressing and trying to make (Great Valley) make more mistakes in their defensive half, and it worked. We just couldn’t finish our opportunities.”

The Knights were without regular midfielder Mohammed Hendwy, who had to sit out the game after drawing a yellow card in the previous outing. For the Patriots, it was a razor-tight road win that could wind up being important down the road.

“We never really got into a rhythm and we didn’t play as well as we think we can. But it doesn’t matter how ugly it was, it is a win,” Moffett said.

“Every game now has such big implications,” Lock added. “A tough 1-0 road victory like this could make or break the season. Every win is vital.”

Great Valley 1, West Chester Rustin 0

Great Valley                         1 0 — 1

West Chester Rustin          0 0 — 0

Great Valley goal: Brandt.

Goalie saves: Wrabley (GV) 11; Runzer 9.

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