In a game where clear chances were few and far between, it was a game that was going to be decided by fine margins, and on a cold night in Peters Twp, it was the Cougars of Charleroi who edged past a very resilient Bentworth Bearcats side to book their place in the Finals of the PIAA Boys Soccer 1A playoffs thanks to Bryce Large’s finish with 25 seconds remaining.
Whenever you have a tight game, you need to have luck fall your way, as the Cougars did for their first goal, but when it came to the winner, Head Coach Jon Ducoli stressed that the win came from within themselves rather than good fortune:
“Whenever it gets down to that, it’s all about grit and heart, and keeping that nose to the grindstone and keep on working, and keep doing what’s working for you.”
The victory saw Charleroi knock off the team that beat them for the WPIAL title 11 days ago. However, Ducoli didn’t have ‘revenge’ on his mind at the final whistle, but rather a message of determination to overturn the heartbreak at Highmark Stadium:
“Not a revenge, but it had to be a statement game for us to come back from a loss in the championship game like that.”
How it happened
The game started with a very cagey opening twenty minutes, with neither side really getting a clear sight of goal. Perhaps it was simply a case of the toils of a long season finally catching up to both sides, or the nerves of not wanting to lose on such a big stage taking their respective tolls on the boys mentally.
As the first half progressed though, the game started to open up a little bit more with the respective defenses starting to be stretched that little bit more, but chances were still predominantly restricted to speculative efforts from outside the box, none of which gave either goalkeeper much trouble.
It was no surprise then that the opening goal came from a slice of luck rather than skill, as Landon Barcus’ corner wasn’t dealt with by Bentworth, and Arlo McIntyre had the simple task of tapping home from a yard out to give the Cougars the lead heading into the break.
In an almost identical replay of the first half, the second half began with both sides trying, and failing to break down their opponents, before McIntyre’s curling effort against the post brought a little bit more energy to the game. The Bearcats huffed and puffed to get back into the fame and were duly rewarded with less than 15 minutes to play, as Ryan Moessner was dragged down just inside the box, allowing Ryan Colbert to dispatch the penalty and bring the sides level.
With time winding down, Bentworth were presented with a golden opportunity to snatch the tie, Jake Chambers’ loose pass in the box was picked up by Ryan Moessner, but his effort was smothered by an on-rushing and quick-thinking Nate Mazon to keep the score level. That save turned out to be crucial as with just 25 seconds remaining, Bryce Large picked up a loose ball in the box, danced through a number of Bentworth defenders before firing a rocket low past Diontae Hayes to send the Cougar fans into delirium and the team into the finals.
Charleroi will now face Delco Christian in the final, to be played Saturday, at 1:30 p.m. in Mechanicsburg.
2 – Dylan Klinger scuffs an effort at the near post after a quickly taken free kick out wide
17 – Arlo McIntyre stings the gloves of Diontae Hayes from the edge of the area
20 – Arlo McIntyre drags a wide free kick just wide of the near post
24 – Bryce Large’s free-kick goes straight into the gloves of Diontae Hayes
27 – Ryan Moessner breaks through the Charleroi line, but fires an effort over the bar from the edge of the box
34 – Bryce Large’s shot takes a huge deflection that leaves Diontae Hayes well-beaten, but it trickles wide for a corner
35 – From the resulting corner, Arlo McIntrye bundles home from close range as Bentworth fail to clear their lines
52 – Arlo McIntyre strikes the post with a curling effort that had Diontae Hayes beaten
62 -Ryan Moessner and Arlo McIntyre exchange speculative efforts from outside the box, but both sail over the bar
67 – Ryan Moessner is pulled down inside the box, Ryan Colbert scores in the bottom-left corner to tie things up
69 – Ethan Hartley’s snapshot from outside the area sails just over the bar
74 – Ryan Moessner picks up Jake Chambers’ wayward pass, but his effort was stopped by Nate Mazon
POST MATCH WITH CHARLEROI’s JON DUCOLI