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‘Grit and heart’ gets Charleroi over the line as they squeak past Bentworth to advance to 1A finals

File photo courtesy Ed Thompson

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.

Key moments

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


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