Philipsburg-Osceola knocks off third-seeded Forest Hills, 2-1|
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
By Jon Christoff Sports Writer
RICHLAND - Philipsburg-Osceola boys soccer coach Shawn Inlow lost a number of seniors from last year's District 6 Class AA championship team.
While this year's version of Mountie soccer may not have attained the same level of success as the 2012 model, Inlow's crew showed they are still the defending champs until someone knocks them off.
P-O, which is seeded sixth, opened this year's D-6 tournament behind a pair of first-half goals en route to a 2-1 win over third-seeded Forest Hills on Tuesday night in Richland.
The Mounties await the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal bout between No. 2 Bellefonte and No. 7 Huntingdon - each of whom P-O has met throughout the course of the regular season in a jam-packed Mountain League slate.
"We graduated most of a District 6 championship team last year," said Inlow. "We're here (because) we had a winning record by the deadline and ... there isn't much difference between the top seed in Tyrone and the bottom seed, really.
"Anybody can be beaten - even us - in the District 6 playoffs. I want to see if these boys have the moxie to come out and win another one. Nobody expected us to be here, but we're here. We're a little bit wet behind the ears, but it's possible."
P-O gained the upper hand in a hotly contested match in a 3-minute span late in the first half.
Mountie striker Austin Krise had several chances in the early going to put his team ahead on throw-ins from several teammates, but Hunter Honan's throw-in the 28th minute allowed his sophomore teammate to streak behind the Ranger defenders.
Krise, who was racing down the left side of the box, booted the ball to the far post at the 28:05 mark to give his team the lead for good.
P-O was on the board just 2 minutes, 45 seconds later, as Krise's hustle drew a foul inside the 18 and the Mounties were awarded a penalty kick - which Wyatt Inlow deposited in the net past the outstretched hands of Forest Hills keeper Thomas Smith.
"Austin had that matchup won on their centerback," coach Inlow said. "We liked that matchup and he tore them apart the first 20 minutes, and then they put a lot of pressure on our box.
"We have two or three guys that have long throws. They're not high throws, but they're bullets. They can do it quick, and they can surprise the defender. The idea is, if you can get the throw in quick enough, it's in past the centerback before he realizes it, and it's too late. Austin got the inside on him, and that was it."
The Mounties had a couple more runs on Smith, but were unable to add to their lead.
While Inlow warned his team that a 2-0 lead was dangerous, his squad was unable to keep the Rangers and the feisty Rylan Nadonley off the scoreboard.
While the diminutive Nadonley may have been the smallest player on the field, he was also the fastest and most athletic.
P-O keeper Mitch Winters did his best to keep Nadonley and Co. off the board, but the Rangers were able to work the give-and-go to cut the deficit in half with 59:16 elapsed.
"I told the kids at halftime that a 2-0 lead is dangerous," Inlow said. "They have a shifty player, and I think he's a Division I player - he is so crazy talented. He got through our back line two or three times (in the first half) and missed.
"We thought we could handle him rotating two centerbacks, but he was so talented that we had to do something (to combat) that. ... We ended up playing defense in the second half a lot more. We were trying not to throw guys forward because the counter-attack possibility was too much."
The Mounties' strategy of keeping players back on their half and not attacking Smith paid off, as Forest Hills was unable to push anything on Winters after Nadonley's tally.
P-O will have the week off before the semifinal round against a familiar opponent, regardless of Thursday's outcome.
"Everybody beat everybody in the Mountain League this year," said Inlow, whose team is 8-8-1. "It was a mess.. Games were just chaos. ... Anybody in our league can beat anybody. That game in Bellefonte with Huntingdon is going to be a howler. You'll want to be at that one."
Philipsburg-Osceola 2, Forest Hills 1
1. Austin Krise, PO, (Hunter Honan), 28:05.
2. Wyatt Inlow, PO, (penalty kick), 30:50.
3. Rylan Nadonley, FH, (Tyler Manges), 59:16.
Shots: P-O 8, Forest Hills 8.
Saves: P-O (Mitch Winters) 4, Forest Hills (Thomas Smith) 5.
Corners: P-O 1, Forest Hills 7.