by Tom Utescher
After a 0-0 opening half in last Friday’s Inter-Ac League soccer match at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, it seemed as if goals cascaded onto the scoreboard in the early minutes of the second period. However, the host Blue Devils and the visiting Friars of Malvern Prep were still tied – now at 2-2 – as the end of regulation play approached.
The contest proceeded into overtime, and near the end of the first five-minute extension senior Evan Wilson invaded the Friars’ sanctuary to give SCH a 3-2 victory. Earlier, goals by junior Jose Contreras and sophomore Padgett Gustavson had erased deficits of 0-1 and 1-2 for the Blue Devils, who finished out the week with a mark of 3-1 in league play and 12-4-1 overall.
Three days earlier, a lone goal by senior Alec Greenhalgh decided the issue in a 1-0 SCH win at Germantown Academy. On Friday, while the Blue Devils played Malvern, GA improved to 3-2 in the league with a 2-1 overtime decision over visiting Penn Charter (0-3-2). By week’s end, SCH and Episcopal Academy were the only teams that had not completed the first round of play in the Inter-Ac; their scheduled meeting on October 11 had been postponed due to rain.
Haverford School went through the first round without a hitch for a 5-0 mark, winning by more than one goal in every game save its league opener, a 2-1 verdict over Malvern. The Friars, who received both of their goals at SCH last Friday from senior Greg Pelton, left Chestnut Hill with an Inter-Ac tally of 1-3-1.
SCH coach Joe DiSalvo was pleased by his team’s resiliency, pointing out, “This is only the second time all year that we’ve won when the other team has scored first, and we came from behind twice today.”
Malvern attacked at the outset and got off the first two shots of the afternoon, one sailing far above the cage and the second resulting in the first of the eight saves recorded by Sam McDowell, the Blue Devils’ sophomore goalie. Wilson, who would score the hosts’ final goal, also took their first shot, but this attempt eight minutes into the game was easily handled by the Friars’ freshman keeper, Brandon Chiazza.
A few minutes later, Malvern sent a threatening serve into the SCH box. The ball was headed away from the front of the goal by Gustavson, who later would make his mark on the offensive end.
“Padgett didn’t play for us against Haverford [an 0-3 loss], and I think it affected us,” Coach DiSalvo said of the 10th-grader. “He’s really making an impact for us and I expect he’ll be starting the rest of the way.”
Malvern sent another airborne ball towards the Devils’ cage on a corner kick from the right, and this time it was SCH senior Phil Kelly who butted the ball out of the danger zone. At the other end, the Devils hit the right post with one shot, and sent another off of the crossbar of one of the football goal posts, which was located right behind the Malvern cage.
Each side had more chances, but no goals, as the half wound down.
During the interlude, DiSalvo recounted, “We told the guys that we were going to keep getting a lot of opportunities. Malvern plays an offsides trap, and we knew how to beat it. So the idea for our guys was to be patient, stay calm, and be ready to finish our opportunities when we got them.”
However, a little less than three minutes after play resumed, it was the Friars’ Pelton who would capitalize on the first good scoring chance of the second half. The Malvern marker came with 37:09 left in regulation play, but with 35:15 on the ticker SCH was back to even at 1-1. Contreras ran onto a ball that was sent up from the midfield towards the left side of the box. The pass caught the Friars pushed a little too far upfield on their trap and Contreras went on in to score.
Les than five minutes later, Malvern led once more. Advancing up the right wing, the Friars sent the ball in towards the box. SCH’s McDowell charged far out of the cage but did not come up with the ball, and Pelton, who was now past the keeper, shot into an open net with 30:32 remaining in the second half.
The Blue Devils tied the game for a second time with 26:55 to go, when a group of SCH players advanced towards the Malvern goal and Gustavson fired from inside the 18, sending the ball in off the right post. As DiSalvo noted, Springside Chestnut Hill’s prompt response to each of the Friars’ markers was important.
“Most coaches will tell you that the best time to get a goal back is within five minutes of when the other team scored,” he said, “because after they score they can tend to take sort of a mental break. We thought it looked like they were offsides on their second goal, but like we’ve been telling the guys, making excuses doesn’t change what happened. If you give up a goal or you don’t get a call you thought should have been made, you have to work to overcome that.”
After four points went up in lights in just over 13 minutes, the teams dug in and the 2-2 score held up until the end of the second half. Two five-minute overtime periods, played in full, were stipulated by the league rules. Malvern sent a shot too high at the start of the first extra session, and later their keeper stopped a ball hit by the Devils’ Greenhalgh.
After that, SCH senior Peter Davis sent ball across the Malvern 18 a little left of center, and Wilson struck it on the run to put it into the cage. Just 15 seconds were left in the first five-minute stint. In the second five, the Devils protected their lead mainly by continuing to attack. Malvern’s best last hope came on a free kick from about 25 yards out in the middle, but when visiting sophomore Mike Narzikul teed off, the ball arced above all of the field players and was pocketed by McDowell.