HYDE — The Clearfield boys soccer team scored two quick goals in Tuesday’s game with rival Philipsburg-Osceola, netting one just 1:45 into the game and adding to the lead at 9:18 to seize early control.
The Bison made that stand up in a 2-0 victory over the Mounties in a series that has seen nine of the last 15 decisions come down to one goal.
“To get one that quick is huge and then to follow up with another one soon after kind of set the nerves at ease a little, but I knew Philipsburg would keep playing hard,” Clearfield head coach Todd Trinidad said. “But it was great to get that 2-goal lead.”
Bison Nick Ryan scored the first goal after Andrew Lopez poked the ball through to him after a couple Mountie defenders had a miscommunication. Ryan was pretty much all alone on the doorstep to make it 1-0 on the game’s first shot.
Clearfield cashed in on a similar play less than eight minutes later, when Lopez broke into the box after a short pass from the right sprung him open. Lopez beat P-O keeper Dakota Fetterolf 1-on-1 to make it 2-0.
“We’ve been working a lot on getting the ball in there and getting that quick shot off, and Andrew is dangerous when you get him the ball that close to the net,” Trinidad said. “We’re always looking for that opportunity. Everyone up there wants that goal and if you give us that little opportunity, our guys will cash in.”
The two-goal deficit was certainly not the way the Mounties wanted to start in a series that is historically low-scoring and close.
“We got here a little late and didn’t get a proper warmup,” P-O head coach Shawn Inlow said. “We came out a little flat and we kind of helped them on their two goals. There was a little indecision on the back line. It was like ‘you take, I take it’ and instead they took it.
“Our back line really helped them. I don’t know when the last time was we gave up two goals like that. And good on those guys for stepping up there and taking a poke.”
After Clearfield gained the early advantage, the game settled into more of a midfield battle with neither team able to get much of a run on the opposing net.
Lopez did have one more close shot midway through the half, but Fetterolf made the save to keep the game within striking distance.
P-O also came up with one very dangerous opportunity with time dwindling in the first half when Mountie Caleb Pellerite and Bison keeper Graeson Graves arrived at a loose ball at the same time.
The loose ball bounced around a bit, while a prone Graves tried to get back on his feet. Dawson Snyder was able to get a solid foot on it first, but Graves somehow reached across his body while still on the ground to deny Synder and keep it a 2-0 game heading to the break.
“Graeson made a great 5save off a ricochet that kept it a 2-0 game and the defense (Nate Barr, Trevor Hoffman, Hayden Williams) played really good all game long,” Trinidad said. “They’re just animals back there.”
P-O came out a little more aggressive to the ball to start the second half and had better lucking pressuring the Clearfield defense. The Bison were forced to retreat a little at times, but there were still very few shots reaching Graves, who stopped two in the first half and three in the second.
“They came and out and played a little faster game, which we love to play,” Trinidad said. “We’ll take that any day. So we just kept playing fast and playing our game.”
“We played the way we’re supposed to play in the second half,” Inlow said. “We were flat in the first half and we were coming off having a game yesterday. So we had a back-to-back and that doesn’t ever help.
After surviving an initial burst by the Mounties, the game worked back into a midfield battle before Clearfield eventually started to get more scoring chances as the half wore on.
“We definitely kept things together,” Trinidad said. “There was a lot of passing going on and some possession on both sides.”
Clearfield put up nine shots in the second half, most coming in the final 20 minutes, but Fetterolf was up to the task, turning them all aside.
“Their keeper played well tonight and made some great saves,” Trinidad said.
“We just got him back, so he’s not quite game shape. But he had the No. 1 pinned down until he broke his collarbone before the season,” Inlow said. “He’s a really good soccer player. He plays with his feet really well and that’s really helpful in goal.”
The Bison were able to keep P-O away from their net during the waning moments to preserve the shutout and improve to 10-2 on the season.
“That was a nicely played game,” Inow said. “I liked the character of both teams in that game. I think these games can sometimes be a little caustic, and I’m really glad that it wasn’t.”
The last game between the Mounties and Bison (a 1-0 Clearfield win in September) was hotly contested and got pretty physical with six yellow cards and one red handed out.
Tuesday’s game had just one yellow given very late in the game.
“Clearfield hired three officials for a rivalry game, and I think the PIAA should do that. Three officials really helps,” Inlow said. “When you do a two-man diagonal it’s impossible for guys to be in position to make the right calls. You don’t have a guy in the middle hearing kids chirping at each other and saying, ‘hey, settle down son.’ You get three guys, you have a much better game.
“I really feel like the officiating in this game was fair. It was well-played. This is what a Clearfield-P-O game oughta be. That was a classy game. Kudos to the officials. They did a really good job.”
The win for Clearfield was the ninth in a row for the Bison in the series. Trinidad is 13-2 against the Mounties since taking over the program in 2012.
“It’s usually a 1-goal game,” Trinidad said. “My guys always step it up for this game. It always makes me nervous, but we’ve come out on top quite a few times. These guys step up to the challenge.”
The Bison, who are 9-1 in the Mountain League, travel to Bellefonte on Thursday.
P-O slipped to 4-9 overall and 2-9 in Mountain League play.
The Mounties host Penns Valley Thursday.
1. Nick Ryan, C, (Andrew Lopez), 1:45.
2. Lopez, C, 9:18.
Shots: Philipsburg-Osceola 5, Clearfield 17.
Saves: Philipsburg-Osceola (Dakota Fetterolf) 15, Clearfield (Graeson Graves) 5.
Corner kicks: Philipsburg-Osceola 3, Clearfield 5.