Clearfield upsets Philipsburg-Osceola, 2-1|
Thursday, October 18, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
PHILIPSBURG - The Clearfield boys soccer team's season hasn't gone as planned.
The Bison were hoping to put together a winning 2012 campaign, but a slow start and some turmoil led to just two wins and a mid-season coaching change coming into Wednesday's game at Philipsburg-Osceola.
But Clearfield has been playing better under interim head coach Todd Trinidad, and the Bison put forth perhaps their best performance of the season against the Mounties, topping the hosts 2-1 in a physical affair on what has become a home-field disadvantage for P-O.
Clearfield improved to 3-13 with the win and gave Trinidad his second victory as the interim head coach.
"We're just so excited," Trinidad said. "We've been working so hard. Every game, we get better and better, and just couldn't come through. "But we've been making some changes in our lineup and it finally came through for is. It's exciting.
"I'm just so proud ... so excited right now."
One of the changes Clearfield made was moving center defender Nolan Barger to striker. Barger scored both of Clearfield's goals, then returned to his normal position for the last 20 minutes of the game to help stave off a P-O rally.
"We just had to generate some offense and Nolan is a strong guy, and he's fast," Trinidad said. "We paired him with Jack (Soult) to get more strength and depth up top.
"He's just a tough guy up top who digs through and gets to the ball and scores. The goals may not be the prettiest, but he's scoring."
Barger's first goal came with just 1:37 left in the first half after the teams battled through over 38 minutes of physical soccer with very few quality scoring opportunities.
The Bison forward got to a loose ball that took a tricky bounce over P-O keeper Mitch Winters' head and deposited it in the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
"That was a big lift," Trinidad said. "We've been working on crashing the net and getting in there and getting opportunities."
Chase Wise sent the ball into the box from the right wing well beyond the 18 and a lack of communication in the P-O box gave helped give Barger a run at the net.
"That's a communication error between the goalie and the center back," P-O head coach Shawn Inlow said. "The goalie needs to catch that ball. If a goalie lets the ball bounce in front of him on this field, it bounces a long way. But it was a communication error between our guys and Clearfield benefited from it."
Winters was playing in net due to an injury to regular keeper Jay Prentice and the change in personnel was difficult for the P-O defenders.
"Mitchell is a very good goalie, but he tends to hold his line," Inlow said. "You're not going to get that freight train coming through and grabbing the ball. It's' a different style with Mitchell and the defenders need to know they can pass the ball to Mitchell. His feet are tremendous. He was a starting outside backer for us.
"He holds his line and plays the angles. That's his style. He has very soft hands and he's very good with the ball. He doesn't come off the line much, and he doesn't need to with two giant center backs in front of him."
P-O came out in a new configuration to start the second half, but the change didn't seem to bother the Bison.
In fact, Clearfield padded its lead at 56:07 when Barger found a soft spot in the Mountie defense and fired a shot past Winters to give the visitors a two-goal advantage.
"Our goal at halftime was to come out and get another score and be up 2-0," Trinidad said. "But I was still very nervous. P-O is a very dangerous team. They have a lot of big guys who have very dangerous shots as far as where they can hit from. It was a very nerve-racking second half."
Inlow credits another bad bounce as a reason his defense was unable to clear the ball before Barger blasted it into the net.
"We've given up one goal all year on the road," Inlow said. "But this pitch causes goals like that. This pitch causes really unusual things. Jay got injured last week on a very unusual bounce. This is real common here, so it's hard to play consistent defense the way we like to ... at home.
"There's something about this field. We don't play well on it. Every game has been a struggle."
P-O went back to its normal shape after that and started finding some success with its attacks.
And with a little under 10 minutes left in regulation, the Mounties scored on a double-header to narrow the gap to 2-1.
Nick Boumerhi initiated the scoring play with a well-placed direct kick at the Bison goal that Taylor Golemboski headed to his right toward Skyler Krise, who headed the ball past Clearfield keeper Keith Biancuzzo and into the net.
"We changed our shape (to a 4-4-3) a little bit in the second half," Inlow said. "We came out the first 10 minutes to see if a change of shape would do anything, but it didn't. Clearfield handled the shape really well and was getting the better of the play. So we went back to our standard with 30 minutes to play.
"With about 20 minutes to go, we started playing right. I used the Krise boys (Austin and Skyler) on the wings and they were quite effective. I think in that last 20 minutes it was very clear we had rediscovered who we were."
The Mounties had several close calls in the second half, especially on corner kicks.
But Biancuzzo was there to stop Golemboski on a number of headers off set pieces to keep the Clearfield lead intact.
Biancuzzo made 10 saves in the contest.
"Keith did a great job back there," Trinidad said. "He had some great saves. And those big guys coming in on those corners are very dangerous. We were very nervous on all the corner kicks, but Keith came through for us."
There was also a little controversy on a corner kick when a collision in the box left Golemboski on the ground in pain in front of the Bison net.
"I feel like (Golemboski) gets fouled a lot, but I feel like (Golemboski) fouls a lot too," Inlow said. "It goes both ways. I thought the one in the penalty area was fairly egregious. But we didn't get the call and that might be due to our teams' attitude.
"Sometimes our attitude on the pitch, especially with the officials, isn't proper. And this is something that we here in Mountieland can do better."
After surrendering the Krise goal, Clearfield went into complete defensive mode and staved off every Mountie attack to secure the win.
"We could see at the end we had then a bit frustrated and our goal then was just to maintain some ball control and move it around and possess the midfield," Trinidad said. "The guys in the midfield did a great job, and we went back to our prevent defense."
Trinidad credits his defense of Andrew Angstadt, Tkacik, Nathan Ting and Alec Freeman, as well as Barger and Craig Reddinger, who also saw time on that side of the ball, for keeping P-O's offense to a minimum.
"We're working on just standing in front of the player instead of jumping in and getting beat," he said. "We want to just hold then up and see if we can get them to make a bad pass and then we can move in and maybe steal the ball.
"They did a good job standing them up. If you do that, they can't shoot and they can't pass through them."
"Clearfield played well," Inlow said. "I like what Todd has done with them. Those guys handled the ball well and passed it around well. They play right. They really do play right. Their record doesn't reflect it, but they do."
P-O outshot Clearfield, 12-8, and held a 7-3 advantage on corner kicks.
"We had a lot of good looks, but we didn't capitalize," Inlow said. "And they had few, but the looks they did have I'm sure they enjoyed our charity.
"But that's the game and you can't pin that on Mitchell. He's a new guy (in net) and we have to support him. Jay is probably going to be back for the playoffs."
With the loss, P-O finished its regular season with a record of 10-4-4. The defeat also dropped the Mounties into a first-place tie for the Mountain League title by virtue of the Red Raiders' 2-1 win Wednesday over Bald Eagle Area.
"We still can still claim a Mountain League title and we haven't done that in 15 years," Inlow said. "But it would have been nice it we didn't have to share it with Bellefonte."
The Mounties await the District 6 playoff seedings and will be back in action at a date, site and time to be determined.
Clearfield returns to the field Saturday morning at 11, playing host to Curwensville.
Clearfield 2, Philipsburg-Osceola 1
1. Nolan Barger, C, (Chase Wise), 38:23.
2. Barger, C, (Ethan Tkacik), 56:07.
3. Skyler Krise, PO, (Taylor Golemboski, Nick Boumerhi), 70:30.
Shots: Clearfield 8, Philipsburg-Osceola 12.
Saves: Clearfield (Keith Biancuzzo) 10, Philipsburg-Osceola (Mitch Winters) 4.
Corner kicks: Clearfield 3, Philipsburg-Osceola 7.