ROYERSFORD >> The way Lower Merion has been playing defense this season, more often than not one goal would have been all that was necessary to come out on top. And that was all the Aces needed and got Wednesday night in a 1-0 win over Parkland that sends them to the PIAA Class 4A boys soccer championship game.
Sam Nyenka scored with 23 minutes remaining in the semifinal contest at Spring-Ford’s Coach McNelly Stadium and Lower Merion shut the Trojans down the rest of the way with a combination of tough defense and a continued attack that kept the ball in the Parkland end of the field.
The District 1 champion Aces (23-1) will play for the state title Saturday at 7 p.m. at Eagle View Middle School in Mechanicsburg against Seneca Valley, a 2-0 winner over defending champion Conestoga.
“We told our defense all we need is a clean sheet,” said Nyenka. “We’ll score. We’ve scored every game.”
And that’s what the Ace defenders and goalkeeper Crosby Johnson, who have allowed only eight goals the entire season, did for the fifth straight match and 18th time this season.
Nyenka booted in a rebound of his own initial shot.
“Sam is confident,” said Lower Merion coach Nico Severini. “I told him before the game that I thought this was going to be his day. You need one opportunity to put it away.”
That was far from the only scoring chance for the Aces, who have averaged over three goals per game. But Trojan goalkeeper Matt Link came up with 11 saves, many of them spectacular.
Among other stops, Link made a save on a point blank shot by Nyenka in the first half, made a diving one-handed save after a long run by Nyenka early in the second half and a leaping deflection of a long shot late in the game that then hit the crossbar.
“We did attack,” said Severini. “It would have been very nice to put another goal in. Kudos to their goalie. He made some great saves.”
“I think they’re going to do well Saturday,” said Parkland coach Scott Mang. “They have dynamic players and they’re lightening fast.”
Parkland (24-2-1), which won its first District 11 championship since 2017, did get the ball downfield a few times after Nyenka’s score, but wound up with no shots on goal and no corner kicks in the second half.
“We made a shape change,” said Mang. “I thought the last 15 minutes we had opportunities. We were dangerous. I thought we passed it pretty well tonight. I think we gave them a good game.”
The trip to the semifinals was the first for Parkland since it went 25-2 in 1998.
The Aces made it to the championship match in 1984, 1987 and 1988, winning the title in 1987. Now they will face an opponent that also advanced to the final last season and won the title in 2020.
“They’re definitely a very good team,” said Severini. “We’re a good team. We’ll have to see how the ball bounces. We have a great group of guys. They’ve know each other for many years.”
“We’ve been playing since we’ve been in middle school,” said Nyenka. “We won districts. We won the Central League. Now we have one more game to get it done.”
Lower Merion 1, Parkland 0
Parkland 0 0 – 0
Lower Merion 0 1 – 1
Saves: PK-11 (Matt Link), LM-3 (Crosby Johnson)
Corner kicks: PK-1, LM-9
Boys Basketball/ 3 weeks ago
PIAA basketball tournament brackets
The PIAA has released its brackets for the upcoming basketball championships. Tournaments begin Friday,...
WINTER SPORTS/ 22 hours ago
Four-goal second period lifts West Chester East to third consecutive Pennsylvania Cup title
For the West Chester East ice hockey team, its dominating late season run packed...
SPRING SPORTS/ 22 hours ago
Mercury Roundup (March 25): Owen J. Roberts girls lacrosse downs Conestoga in battle of unbeatens
GIRLS LACROSSE Owen J. Roberts 9, Conestoga 4 Highlights: In a battle of undefeated...
Girls Basketball/ 23 hours ago
Triple threat: Archbishop Wood downs South Fayette in PIAA-5A final for third straight state title
HERSHEY >> Waiting to receive their state champion medals, Ava Renninger and Deja Evans...
SPRING SPORTS/ 1 day ago
DLN girls track previews: Rustin looks to be in fast lane again
The West Chester Rustin girls finished first in the team standings at the PIAA...
Girls Basketball/ 1 day ago
Casey’s Place: Lansdale Catholic makes history with PIAA-4A title win over Blackhawk
HERSHEY >> Gabby Casey hopped up and down on the Giant Center logo, her...
SPRING SPORTS/ 1 day ago
DLN local roundup: Bishop Shanahan boys lacrosse team rolls to victory
The Bishop Shanahan High School boys’ lacrosse team defeated Bellefonte, 15-2, Saturday. The Eagles...
The Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Media Local Roundup (March 24): Lansdale Catholic too much for Springfield-Montco
Boys lacrosse Lansdale Catholic 13, Springfield 5: Gavin Selchert scored three goals and dished...
Boys Lacrosse/ 2 days ago
North Penn holds off West Chester Henderson for 3rd straight win
TOWAMENCIN >> A four-goal lead for the North Penn boys lacrosse team had been...
Mercury roundup (March 24): Upper Perkiomen girls lacrosse rolls past Northampton
GIRLS LACROSSE Upper Perkiomen 17, Northampton 9 Highlights: Upper Perkiomen ran out to a...
Boys Lacrosse/ 2 days ago
Second half surge lifts Kennett past Ridley
KENNETT SQUARE >> It’s always dangerous to place too much importance on early-season, non-conference...
WINTER SPORTS/ 2 days ago
Brendlinger calls it a career as Pottsgrove girls basketball coach
Mike Brendlinger has retired after 21 years as head coach of the Pottsgrove High...
2023 Mercury Boys Tennis Previews
Boyertown Coach: Donna Laskosky Last year’s record: 5-6 PAC Players to watch: Brayden Burkhardt,...