BELLEFONTE — The Philipsburg-Osceola soccer Mounties were fresh off a week of postponements as they traveled to Bellefonte where they earned a not-as-close-as-the-score-would-indicate 1-0 victory when a Mountie defense-man lucked into a goal against a red-hot Raider keeper.
Sixteen days earlier, the Red Raiders had taken P-O to overtime before bowing 3-2 at Curtis Park in a physical game that was starkly different from the match Tuesday. The slick field caused many turnovers as players fell awkwardly amid game-play.
“You couldn’t go all out,” said Mountie freshman midfielder, Wyatt Inlow, who knew the muddy turf first-hand. “Every time you accelerated, your feet would just go out from under you, so you had to play cautiously.”
While both sides played as if on ice, the Mounties passed well enough, linking through the midfield most of the day and drawing the Raiders inside before exposing gaping opportunities deep on the right wing where overlapping senior defense-man Dustin Fisch caused havoc.
Fisch used the great width of the Bellefonte home pitch to his advantage, getting the edge on the Bellefonte back line a handful of times. Mountie strikers then peppered the Red Raider goal with tantalizing shots that sophomore keeper Jacob Mann somehow kept out. Mountie coach Tom Petro was duly impressed.
“That kid got a hand on some impossible shots,” said Petro. “Credit to the young man because he kept them from being down 3-0 by half-time.”
In the second half, the Mounties again poured on the pressure and the dam finally broke on an unassuming ball in. Following a long throw-in from junior center back Taylor Golemboski in the 53rd minute, the ball was cleared to Mountie captain Alex Boumerhi outside the Bellefonte bubble. Boumerhi slid the ball to the left side where Golemboski was tracking back. Finding himself in open space, Golemboski lofted a ball high into the mixer that simply got over Mann and under the bar. Golemboski had lucked out.
“It’s the way this game goes sometimes. You get nothing from some shots with serious mal-intent,” said Petro. “Then you just try to put a ball in danger and it falls for you.”
The Mounties continued for a time to find opportunities to attack, but held players back in the midfield, mindful of the Red-Raiders’ counter-attack. With ten minutes to play, senior striker Greg Kojadinovich sank back as a fifth midfielder and the Mounties choked the life from the game.
Late on, sophomore defense-man, Nick Boumerhi took a throw-in at the edge of the attacking third and simply threw it to open grass in the corner where the ball rolled dead, the clock ticked down and the Mounties emerged with a record of 7-2 and an eye toward a potential Mountain League title game.
The Mounties out-shot the Red Raiders 23-11, but only four of the Bellefonte shots were from inside the P-O penalty area and few troubled junior keeper Jay Prentice, who notched his 4th clean sheet of the season while saving 7. Raider keeper Mann saved 8. The corner-kick battle was won by P-O by a 7-4 margin. The Mounties host Penn’s Valley at Curtis Park Thursday in a 4 p.m. start.
The junior varsity match ended in a 2-2 draw. Mountie goals were scored by Nate Burfield and Levi Muir, both from assists by freshman midfielder Skyler Krise.
It is the Mountie Tradition to name a “Man of the Match.” Tuesday’s honorees were senior defense-man Dustin Fisch for his presence in the attack during the varsity win. The jv honor goes to Skyler Krise for his deft passing in assisting on both goals on the under-card.