GFS senior Anand Butler (right) heads the ball away from Penn Charter sophomore Conrad Williams. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

GFS senior Anand Butler (right) heads the ball away from Penn Charter sophomore Conrad Williams. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

The soccer fields of Penn Charter and Germantown Friends School lie less than half-a-mile apart along School House Lane, and when the boys’ teams from the two schools met in a non-league game at Charter last Thursday, they had more than geography in common.

The two bands of booters are looking to improve their fortunes from the 2013 campaign, when both the GFS Tigers and the PC Quakers struggled. After trailing 1-0 at halftime in last week’s meeting, visiting GFS rallied to take a 2-1 lead and was less than eight minutes from chalking up its first victory of the young 2014 season.

The home fans would go home happy, though, as Charter tied the match with 7:30 to go in regulation play and then won 3-2 when junior Harrison Williams scored in the first minute of “golden goal” overtime.

Senior Luke Zieger and sophomore Christian Lemmo scored in regulation for the Quakers, who leveled their record at 1-1 after opening up on August 30 with a loss to an Ohio powerhouse, two-time defending state champion Summit Country Day. Although Charter had a rough go in the Inter-Ac in 2013, coming in last at 0-8-2, the team has another brutal non-league schedule lined up, facing half-a-dozen nationally-ranked opponents.

Last Thursday Germantown Friends received its two goals from senior Satya Butler and sophomore Ray Hill-Christol. Butler is a team tri-captain this year along with two other 12th-graders, his twin brother Anand and Isaac Bushnell. In 2013, the Tigers finished seventh among the nine Friends Schools League teams, posting a 2-6 record.

This year, the recent heartbreaker at PC was preceded by setbacks against two other Inter-Ac League opponents, Springside Chestnut Hill and Germantown Academy.

A former GA player, Kevin Israel (’10), is the new assistant coach for the GFS Tigers, joining third-year head coach Sam McIlvain. Five players graduated from McIlvain’s 2013 squad, including high-scoring Owen Scott and starting goalie Luke Haas. One current senior who played last fall did not come out for the team this time around.

Among Penn Charter’s eight graduation losses from last year’s roster were first-team All-Inter-Ac midfielder Matt Sullivan and starting keeper T.J. Pagan. In addition, the team is also missing three of last year’s underclassmen.

The projected starting goalie for the Quakers, Jay Jennings, did not play on Thursday. According to longtime PC head coach Bob DiBenedetto, Jennings, a sophomore transfer student, would not be eligible for competition until the following week. PC started out with Dylan Dykstra in goal, then put in fellow junior Nate Ewing for the start of the second half. Germantown Friends went with freshman Pietro Berghella.

The Quakers started out on the offensive, but for 10 minutes or so they didn’t penetrate very far into the penalty box. That changed a little later, with Zieger putting the home team on the scoreboard 15 minutes into the match. Trying to increase their lead, the hosts fired shots that went wide on both sides of the Tigers’ cage.

With 10 minutes left in the half, Williams made a threatening run toward the right post, but Germantown’s Berghella rushed out to snatch the ball away at the last moment.

It was still 1-0 at the intermission.

The second period got underway with several more near misses for Charter. A dozen minutes in, the Quakers sent a corner kick towards the mouth of the goal, but GFS senior back Owen Burns headed the ball out of the danger zone.

Despite the numerous offensive opportunities for the Quakers, the Tigers’ defense had kept the score close. Now GFS put forth a more effective effort on offense than it had earlier in the match. Just after Burns denied Penn Charter a shot on the corner kick, GFS came back up the field on the attack. A shot by senior Evan Zaret was blocked, but Satya Butler was in position to punch in the rebound.

Having pulled even at 1-1 with 27 minutes remaining in the second half, the Tigers maintained their momentum on offense. A well-struck centering pass crossed the goal from left to right, but GFS didn’t have anyone in a good position to shoot from around the far post.

With 18:55 left on the clock, Hill-Christol hit a shot from the left side of the box over into the lower right corner of the Quakers’ cage, moving the visitors’ ahead, 2-1.

With under a dozen minutes left there was contact in the box between a Tigers forward and a PC back in the box, but the officials did not call the foul that the GFS sideline felt was warranted. The ball drifted loose in the box and Zaret closed in on it, but his hard-hit shot went wide of the right post. Not long after that, Germantown’s Satya Butler came off the field after taking a strong jolt to the jaw during a collision.

After a long period of sustained offensive activity for the visitors, host Penn Charter regrouped and took the play to the other end. A strong outside shot by Lemmo tied the match, 2-2, with 7:30 to go in the second half. That figure was still on the board when time ran out, but the teams had arranged to play two 10-minute overtimes in the event of a tie.

A “golden goal” could end the game at any time, though, and that’s what happened in short order. Charter pushed up on offense at the start of the extra session, and soon was awarded a corner kick on the right side. Lemmo made a nice serve across the goal, and Williams came in from the far post to knock the ball home. The contest came to an end with just 36 seconds elapsed in the first overtime.