In a rematch of Mon Valley rivals, Elizabeth Forward was looking to make this a tougher match in the first round of the playoffs than it’s previous 8-0 loss to unbeaten Charleroi.
Charleroi came out looking to use their speed and counter attacks to put the pressure on the Elizabeth Forward defenders. Elizabeth was countering that attack by dropping seven to eight players quickly behind the ball to fill lanes and limit gaps.
The plan was working with a chance here and there for Charleroi.
With 21 minutes left in the first half a penalty kick was awarded on what was called a push to the back of Cullin Woytovich of Charleroi. Cullin would take advantage of the PK and make it 1-0 Charleroi. Five minutes later Woytovich would place a shot across the face of goal that walked its way through defenders and past an outreaching EF goal keeper and in the side of the net for a 2-0 lead.
With eleven minutes left in the half Nick Laskey dropped a flighted ball over the back four onto the foot of Woytovich, who would find the back of the net for the first half hat trick. Charleroi went right back on the attack and if not for a heads up play by EF defender Mitchell Ulm to clear the ball of the line it could have easily been a 4-0 lead going into half time.
Though Elizabeth Forward was not getting consistent shots on goal, they were trying to take advantage of free kicks and made it uncomfortable for Charleroi a few times in the first half.
In the second half Charleroi came out and owned the possession percentage but was trying to drop in the perfect pass with little chips or flips into the 18.
They were getting away from their game. Elizabeth Forward’s Donovan Woytsek reminded them that they were not going away when he struck a shot forcing Charleroi’s Nick Goodwin to his left for a diving save. Charleroi got back into their game using their speed to attack gaps with through balls and apply pressure on the backline of EF.
Nick Laskey would extend the lead to 4-0 on a ball from Woytovich. Elizabeth Forward would find the back of the net off a corner that found Kyle Ochap who would throw a shot at goal and Andrew Smith would use a back heel flick to change the direction and cut the lead to 4-1 Charleroi. Laskey would add two more goals in the half to make the final 6-1 Charleroi.
Elizabeth Forward goalkeeper Benjamin Durant fought hard all night along with his backline. Durant made several big saves in the game at crucial moments when you thought the game was getting away from them. When Durant was looked to beaten his defenders had his back and on three occasions cleared the ball from finding the back of the net.
Charleroi will now take on South Park on Thursday at a site and time to be determined.