BRISTOL TWP. – Recording a goal in the first minute and the last, Council Rock North registered a solid 4-1 triumph over District 12 runner-up Northeast in the opening round of the PIAA Class 4A Tournament Tuesday night at Henry C. Morgan Stadium.
“We wanted to come out hard, which we did,” said O’Donnell, who tallied twice in the state playoff which took place under a driving rain at Harry S Truman High School. “Scoring early helps, obviously; it gave us momentum throughout the game.”
Fifteen minutes into the battle, which got chippy at times in the second half with both red and yellow cards handed out to the Vikings, CR North junior Sean Finneyfrock, took a feed from senior Justin Scharf and blasted the ball by NE senior goalkeeper Sebastian Gimeno.
O’Donnell’s second strike, an unassisted goal he scored 22 minutes into the first half, put the Indians on top, 3-0.
CR North senior Ryan Pave tallied an unassisted goal with 52 seconds left in the game and Northeast freshman Sidiki Fofana scored for the Vikings on a shot from 40-plus yards out with 11 minutes left in the first half.
Two players for Northeast were tossed – Alejandro Giraldo and Arthur Ferreira and two others received yellow cards. That meant the Vikings had to play the final minutes of the playoff with just eight field players and Gimeno.
The win puts the Indians into a PIAA quarterfinal battle set for 3 p.m. Saturday at Downingtown West against District 3 champion Hempfield.
“We approach every game the same way,” said O’Donnell. “It’s still a state game so we had to get out of here with a win, which we did.
“We just have to move on and focus on what we do best.
“We lost in the state quarterfinals last year, so we’re looking to bounce back and do better than we did last year.”
Last season, the Rock, after getting past D11 champ Emmaus 2-1 in OT in a PIAA opener, lost in the state quarterfinals on penalty kicks with D3 and eventual state runner-up Elizabethtown.
Meanwhile, Hempfield lost 1-0 in the 2016 PIAA quarterfinals to eventual state champion Conestoga, this year’s D1 champ.
In the D1 title tilt, the Pioneers got a pair of goals in the first half from senior Chris Donovan and rode them both to a 2-0 victory over CR North Nov. 4 at Great Valley.
“I thought, second half, we were neck and neck with them,” said O’Donnell. “First half, we got unlucky and they scored two goals.
“But I think we can play with anyone we go against.
“Conestoga is one of the best teams in the state and that just shows we can play with anyone.”
While Scharf is back in the lineup, senior Carter Steckbeck is out for the remainder of the season with an injury. The team’s second-leading scorer, Scharf is playing 10 to 15 minutes per game in short shifts.
“He’s only available for short sprints but he’s awful dangerous when he’s out there,” said CR North head coach Joe Stackhouse, of Scharf.
“We’re still doing it with smoke and mirrors.
“We’re putting guys out there for five, 10, seven minutes – whenever we need to give somebody a break.”
The only way the Indians will get a rematch with Conestoga is if both teams make it to the state final, set for Nov. 17 at Hersheypark Stadium.
The Pioneers got past D3 rival Ephrata in a state opener and now face D11 champion Parkland on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
If CR North gets past Hempfield in its quarterfinal, it will have to beat either D7 champ North Allegheny or D7 runner-up Peters Township to get to the state title game.
The state opener between Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) rival La Salle and D1 fourth-place finisher CB West was postponed until tonight. The winner will face D3 runner-up Cumberland Valley Saturday at Tulpehocken.
PIAA Class 4A Tournament (first round)
Council Rock North 4, Northeast 1
(Nov. 7 at Truman)
CR NORTH (16-7-1) 3 1 – 4
NORTHEAST (10-5-1) 1 0 – 1
First-Half Goals: CRN – Conor O’ Donnell, from Jon Pugh, 1st minute; Sean Finneyfrock, from Justin Scharf, 15th minute; O’ Donnell, unassisted, 22nd minute; N – Sidiki Fofana, unassisted, 29th minute
Second-Half Goals: CRN – Ryan Pave, unassisted, 80th minute
SHOTS: Northeast 3, Council Rock North 18
SAVES: Sebastian Gimeno (N) 8, Ed Mancinelli (CRN) 2.