by Tom Utescher
The soccer teams from Springside Chestnut Hill and Germantown Academy first met this fall in their Inter-Ac League opener, and their second encounter came not in their scheduled league rematch, but in last Friday’s quarterfinal round in the Pa. Independent Schools Tournament.
GA won 2-0 in the league debut back in late September, and although the Patriots prevailed again last week, Friday’s tilt at Chestnut Hill was a much closer affair. Each squad scored once in the second half, and the 1-1 tie could not be broken during a pair of five-minute overtime periods. In a best-of-five round of penalty kicks, GA made good on three of its first four attempts, while CHA scored twice. Another successful shot for the Patriots, courtesy of junior Adam Villari, clinched the victory for the visitors.
Springside Chestnut Hill had drawn the higher seed for the state tourney, coming in with an overall mark of 13-8 while GA was 6-8-3. In first round games earlier in the week, the Blue Devils downed Abington Friends, 3-0, while the Pats dispatched Shipley School, 3-1. During this break in league action, both teams remained under .500 in the Inter-Ac, SCH at 3-5 and GA at 2-5-1.
Germantown was the aggressor in the early going, although the Patriots didn’t get off any truly threatening shots until the middle of the period. Off a throw-in with 19 minutes remaining, sophomore Scott Solakian got his head solidly on the ball, but SCH senior goalie Sam Feirson tipped the shot outside the left post. Feirson made a diving save on another GA shot late in the half to keep the count at 0-0 for the intermission.
CHA had made a few trips past the GA 18, but Devils coach Joe DiSalvo admitted, “We came out flat, like we did in the first game against them. I think we gave the majority of the first half away, but at least today they didn’t get that early goal like they had the first time.”
The play was more even in the second stanza, although Germantown made the first mark on the scoreboard just five minutes into the period. A long direct kick reached senior high scorer Dan Hoy in the left side of the box, then he freed himself from the last defender for a successful shot.
GA coach Chris Fehrle said that his team tries to pose multiple threats on offense so opponents can’t completely smother the prominent Hoy, who stands out because of his close-cropped red hair in addition to his talent.
“Most teams know about him,” the Patriots’ skipper said. “We like to get our other forward and our midfielders involved, so we’re more creative on offense instead of relying just on Dan.”
Speaking of SCH, he commented “We try to play a little more of a possession game against them because they’re very good athletically.”
After Germantown took the lead, the Blue Devils countered with a “Dan” of their own, senior Danny Hull. In his second game back after suffering a fractured fibula, Hull was in the box to receive a long serve from classmate Alex deBerardinis, and from close range he tied the match with 19:37 remaining.
Those last 20 minutes went by with the 1-1 tally still intact, and so did 10 minutes of overtime. Since one team had to advance in the tournament, the tie had to be broken and the top shooters on each side lined up to have a go at the goaltenders, Feirson and GA sophomore Jake Jordan.
With GA going first in the alternating sequence, junior Jared Whitman and the Devils’ Hull each scored. Two misses followed, as senior Mike Fitzgerald of GA struck the right post with his shot, and SCH junior Tom Higgins hit the top right corner of the goal frame.
Next, Hoy put his shot in low on the right side, then GA gained an edge in the shootout as Jordan dove to stop a shot low to the left by the Devils’ third shooter, sophomore Kenny McArthur. Visiting junior Bobby Flood fired his ball precisely into the right corner, then on the home team’s fourth attempt GA keeper Jordan guessed that SCH’s Anthony Liddy would also aim to the right side. Instead, Liddy went left and caught the Pats’ netminder off-balance.
GA still led 4-3 with the fifth shooters coming up to the mark, so if Villari could convert the Patriots would win. Unlike his predecessor, Villari targeted the left side, but just like Flood’s, his shot was a perfect strike just inside the post, and there was nothing SCH’s Feirson could do.
“I’d much rather have a game decided out on the field,” said the Patriots’ Fehrle. “But they’re a very good team so it was a big win for us.”
His opposite number, DiSalvo, remarked “This was a little disappointing because we had home field advantage and we were playing a team that we knew. I hope our guys who are coming back will learn that you have to do better when you have an opportunity like this.”