GRATERFORD >> The season series between the Boyertown and Perkiomen Valley boys soccer teams read as one-sided as a line.
The tale of the tape read 2-0 in wins and 8-2 in goals, both favoring Perk Valley.
Yet fresh off their opening round win in the district playoffs Tuesday and learning another meeting with PV awaited, Boyertown eagerly awaited the assignment, confident that a change was coming.
The Bears’ belief was warranted.
Despite trailing within four minutes of the game’s start, Boyertown quickly responded with a pair of goals by senior forward Jayden Anderson in the first 10 minutes and performed down the stretch like the frontrunner it was not in a 2-1 victory over No. 2 seed Perkiomen Valley in the second round of the District 1 Class 4A playoffs Thursday.
“I love this team,” Anderson said. “Everybody brings the energy when they need to and I think that’s what won us this game.”
Boyertown (13-7) advanced to face No. 7 West Chester Rustin – a 3-0 winner over Spring-Ford Thursday – in a District 1 quarterfinal on Saturday. The winner earns a place in the PIAA tournament.
Boyertown’s Jayden Anderson controls the ball as Perkiomen Valley’s Will Watson pressures during their District 1-4A playoff game on Oct. 26 at Perkiomen Valley. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)
Boyertown’s Macade Knoblauch (5) drives with the ball as Perkiomen Valley’s Ben Chalmers pursues during their District 1-4A playoff game on Oct. 26 at Perkiomen Valley. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)
In the span of two weeks, Boyertown has gone from missing the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs to being the last PAC boys soccer squad standing.
“After we (missed the PAC playoffs) the team worked hard that week of practice and we wrapped our heads around that. We had a new beginning,” Anderson said. “This is a new chance, a fresh start for us and we’re trying to make the best of it. This is just the start for us.”
“These boys just fight,” senior midfielder Macade Knoblauch said. “It’s not for individualism, it’s not for getting to the next level, we do it for each other.”
Anderson gave the game a new beginning when he volleyed home an inswinger from Knoblauch just 30 seconds after Perk Valley standout striker Nate Brown gave the Vikings a short-lived lead on a penalty kick.
The eventual game-winner came five minutes later when Knoblauch hit a backspinning lofted ball toward goal from 40 yards, the ball hitting the underside of the crossbar. Some players reacted as if the ball crossed the goal line but Anderson made certain with a tip-in follow to make certain.
Anderson and Knoblauch deferred to one another on who gets credit for the goal, both valuing the bigger picture.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Knoblauch said. “A goal’s a goal and a win’s a win.”
Perkiomen Valley’s Sean Schoeniger controls the ball as Boyertown’s Brayden Burkhardt pressures during their District 1-4A playoff game on Oct. 26 at Perkiomen Valley. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)
It was a painful finish to the season for Perkiomen Valley, which began the season 16-0 and won the PAC Liberty Division, only to go 3-3 over its last six, including losses in the PAC championship game to Upper Merion on Oct. 19 and dropping its district playoff opener after a first-round bye.
“We were looking forward to this year and this senior class for a few years. Many of them are three-year varsity players and we knew we had a lot of experience and we were building towards this,” said PV coach Zach Allen. “We took some lumps last year getting to this point, those close losses where we were finding a way to lose, we found ways to win this year.”
Allen cited the dropoff coinciding with the season-ending knee injury of senior midfielder Christian Campbell on Oct. 10.
“You take a kid who had seven goals and 12 assists in 15 games, creates for us and is an 80-minute guy in an important position, when he went down, we weren’t able to replace that,” Allen said.
With the midfield battle in Boyertown’s favor thanks to Knoblauch, Chase Bartman and Braedyn Johnson, the Bears met the urgency of the moment better.
“We worked on everything in practice, we did our research and watched how they play, we also knew from past experiences playing them before,” Anderson said.
“They limited our space through the midfield,” Allen said. “We were able to get the ball to our midfield moving forward and split their back line the last time, this time they closed down space and took away our quick combinations moving forward and made us more one-dimensional.”
Boyertown’s Brady Albanese looks to pass the ball as Perkiomen Valley’s Matteo LoRegio pressures during their District 1-4A playoff game on Oct. 26 at Perkiomen Valley. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)
Junior center backs Nicholas Morgan and Troy O’Malley had their hands full with PV’s Brown, but limited the supply to the Vikings’ 30-goal scorer. The performance earned praise for senior captain Knoblauch.
“They’re dogs. They didn’t look back and say, ‘those kids scored six, they’re better than us.’ They weren’t scared or sat off and waited, they took the ball, they got on his back and didn’t let him turn,” Knoblauch said. “That’s a lot to take care of, especially from two juniors. It’s something I’m proud of and what I expected.”
Boyertown finished third in the PAC Liberty and missed the league’s Final Four, leaving the team short of a season goal. The last two weeks are giving the Bears the chance to achieve new ones instead.
“We thought highly of the team coming into the year. At the end of the (regular) season it was maybe not what we anticipated, not the goals we may have set. But there’s no point in looking back on it,” Knoblauch said.
Fair enough. The Bears have plenty to look forward to.
NOTES >> Boyertown led in shots on goal 7-5 and both teams had 4 corner kicks … Boyertown goalkeeper Brayden Risser made four saves while PV’s Aidan Autovino stopped five shots … Perk Valley’s 18 wins were a program-best in a season. “It’d be nice to have something to go with it. We still have a nice balance of guys, but that senior class was something I was looking forward to and I’m proud of the regular season they had, the wins they were able to pile up along with a long win streak. There are some positives and hopefully the kids can carry some momentum and take another step forward.”