CONSHOHOCKEN >> It was a battle between the grizzled veterans and the debutantes. The Phelps School was in its first PAISAA boys soccer final, while the Kiski School was looking for its third consecutive title. Score one for the vets.
The Cougars equalized late in the second half and broke the tie in the first overtime to earn a 2-1 victory over the Lions at The Proving Grounds on a chilly, windy Wednesday afternoon.
Kiski won the title in 2019 and again in 2021. The 2020 championship was cancelled due to Covid-19.
“To have a three-peat is great,” said Kiski coach Jonty Loukes. “I have a few players who have been here for all three and that’s a tremendous achievement.”
Both teams found success going against the wind. Phelps (22-2) held the better of the play in the first half, outshooting the Cougars (18-1), 4-2.
Phelps took the lead with 9:42 on the clock. A shot was deflected into the path of leading scorer Collins Oduro, who settled the ball, turned and fired a shot from the top of the penalty box that hit off the inside of the right post and went into the net.
The goal was the 40th of the season for the senior who is ticketed to attend Indiana University next year.
“He’s dangerous,” said Phelps coach Eric Prybutok. “He got a little tired at the end, but he was active. He’s got a lot of talent and ability. And he’s the real deal as a kid. He’s a great student and teammate.”
Loukes also lauded the play of Oduro.
“He’s a tremendous player,” said Loukes. “He was dangerous all game and the goal was top class. I wish him the best at IU. I think he will do very well there.”
In the second half, Kiski slowly found its way into the game, proving to be more and more of a threat. They turned up the offensive pressure and registered 11 shots in the second half.
They tied it with just under eight minutes left. A rebound was pinballing around in the six-yard box before Antonio Correa jumped on it and knocked it past Phelps goalie Ludwig Apel.
The overtime consisted of two five-minute sessions. Neither team had a quality chance until 1:26 was left. A long cross from the left to the right post was met on the volley by junior Adrian Alvarez, who smashed it into the back of the net and the Cougars had the lead.
“I’m feeling a lot of things,” said Alvarez. “I just saw the cross and I just kicked it. I was excited when it went into the net.”
Phelps was forced to play from behind, but couldn’t threaten the Kiski goal. When Joao Gabriel’s shot went over the crossbar with about two minutes left in the second OT period, it was the last chance they had before the clock ran out on them.
“Tough game. The weather had an impact,” said Loukes. “Credit goes to Phelps for bringing it. I said to the boys at halftime, keep at it and the equalizer will come, and it did. I’m proud of them.”
For first-year coach Prybutok, making it to the state final was the culmination of a tremendous first season on the sidelines for the Phelps coach.
“It’s tough. I’m proud of the group,” he said. “We brought in almost 20 new players, so to get this far, I’m just proud of them. For my first year doing this, not knowing what to expect, it was a great year. They put in the work every day and the mentality that they had, I couldn’t ask for more.”
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