CURTIS PARK – It was a button-down game except for five wild minutes Saturday morning as the Red Raiders of Bellefonte took the Philipsburg-Osceola soccer Mounties into overtime before falling in the 82nd minute.
Mountie left wing Antonino Turrigiano deftly picked out senior captain Alex Boumerhi with a 20 yard square ball at the top of the penalty box two minutes and 22 seconds into “sudden victory” overtime and Boumerhi took care of the rest, sending his team to a 3-2 win and a 4-1 record.
Boumerhi found himself confronted with two Red Raider defenders and he juked to his right to gain a precious yard of space before cutting a solid 12 yard ground pass back across the grain, just out of reach of the diving Shane Kaschalk and into the left corner of the goal.
It was an unremarkable finish to a crunchingly physical game that saw at least four Red Raiders helped off the field by medical staff. Otherwise, the game was as calm as the cool fall day it was played on.
“We have a lot of size and we tackle like Donkey Kong,” said Mounties’ coach Tom Petro, “So if a team wants to come at us hard the way Bellefonte did we can dish out some punishment. We prefer a nice passing and build up game, but if you want to bang bodies, we’re not shy.”
The new-look Mounties spent most of the first half in possession and peppering Kaschalk with shots, holding an 11-4 edge in shots before the break. But the Red Raider keeper was equal to the task the only blemish being when P-O striker Greg Kojadinovich forced a turnover in the Raider back line and buried it at 36:04.
Matters proceeded through intermission with none suspecting that the game was about to go to hell in a hand-basket. Three goals fell in rapid succession as both teams furiously punched and counter-punched, trying to knock each other out of the game.
In the 47th minute, the Mounties were setting up shop for one of seven corner-kicks on the day when the Raiders hit them with a sudden counter attack. Paul Harrison blazed down the right wing and crossed before the Mounties could recover. Raider striker Tyler Roads was able to get on the end of the service as Mountie keeper Jay Prentice got his mitts on the wildly spinning ball but was unable to save as it spurted into the air and spun just over the prone keeper and landed just across the line into goal-land.
The tie game was not long for this world. Within a minute the Mounties struck back when junior defender Alex Gray headed home one of Taylor Golemboski’s monster throw-ins to put P-O ahead 2-1.
But the Red Raiders also have a throw-in specialist in Andrew Stover who 36 seconds later found Dakota Nixdorf who hoofed home the equalizer from inside the six at 49:13, causing jubilation among the visitors and shocking the home side.
The remaining 30 minutes of soccer were hard fought, if bloodless, as both teams got chances that neither could finish.
PIAA overtime rules last season called for two full 10 minute periods but this season they’ve gone to what is called sudden victory. PK resolutions to contests remain the purview of playoff contests and the change basically is the sand-lot rule of next score wins. It’s exciting and it was the first overtime for the Mounties’ since last season’s hair-raising 2-2 draw at Central Mountain.
“Bellefonte was playing a spirited game,” said Petro. “And we thought they’d come out hot for OT with a lot of emotion and energy. We instructed our guys to do the opposite. We asked our kids to be calm and slow down because in a hot game like this it would be the cool hand that wins.”
There was no failure to communicate. In the overtime, the Mounties pieced together a better brand of soccer, taking easy passes and moving the ball methodically around the pitch until Turrigiano found the ball out on the left wing to begin the decisive play. Bedlam ensued.
The Mounties out-shot Bellefonte 23 to 9. Mountie keeper Jay Prentice made 8 saves while Bellefonte keeper Kaschalk made 13 saves. P-O won the corner-kick battle 7-1. The Mounties run their record to 4-1 and face an Allegany Division showdown Monday when they host Huntingdon in a 4 p.m. kickoff. Bellefonte falls to 4-4 overall and kicks on Wednesday with a 4 p.m. home scrape with Central Mountain.
The Red Raider junior varsity downed P-O 2-1 despite some nice play on the part of the young Mounties. The sequence that resulted in a Jarrett Rockey goal was a particularly efficient string of ten passes that began with Mountie right back Andy Gray defeating a Red Raider thrust by playing the ball back from the inside to keeper Skyler Krise. Krise immediately played the ball wide for the looping run of Gray heading up the right touchline. A clean midfield triangle saw the ball through to striker Hunter Honan heading to the corner. Honan passed through striker Zack Ament, who set up Rockey with a little square ball near the 18.