CB East grabs state birth with PK win
The sixth-seeded Central Bucks East Patriots had just put 110 minutes of scoreless soccer against host and third-seeded Strath Haven in their rearview mirror.
In Saturday night’s District One quarterfinal, CB East tensed as it prepared for the most exciting second and a half in sports: the penalty kick.
They were Loving it.
Fresh off of a hat trick two days before in the Patriots’ second-round 4-0 throttling of No. 11 Conestoga, sophomore striker Emma Loving buried a shot in the right side of the goal to give CB East (17-1-3) the 3-1 win on penalty kicks. It also clinched a berth in the state playoffs.
“I thought we were the better team tonight, but I have to give Strath Haven a lot of credit with the way they played,” CB East head coach Paul Eisold commended. “They controlled a lot. When we allowed them to get into us, they had some opportunities. But I think we had more quality chances.”
Loving ended the game, but after two rounds of kicks, Strath Haven held a 1-0 advantage.
With CB East shooting to start the third round, senior midfielder Abby Emmert calmly marched to the shooting stripe and buried her kick in the upper right corner of the box. It not only knotted the score 1-1, but it swayed momentum.
“Before the game, it was hard to think of us going so far into the game without scoring. To get that far into PKs, it started to mess with our minds,” Emmert admitted. “But after watching the first two, I had to make sure that I made mine. And also that I looked really confident because if I didn’t, the goalie would sense it.”
CB East gained even more confidence seconds later when senior ’keeper Paige Marcinkowski dove to her right and harmlessly deflected Kathryn Restrepo’s answer.
“I read her hips and knew where the ball was going. I took my guesses and received it,” Marcinkowski humbly said.
Senior midfielder and captain Holly Moyer connected on her PK to put CB East up, 2-1.
The Patriots had opportunities in a first half in which they dominated possession. Loving hit a cross to senior forward Shaun Kane, whose one-timer missed just high 10:00 into the game. Loving’s shot seven minutes later missed the goal by a foot.
“It does get frustrating when you know you are on top of a team and you’re not finishing,” Loving offered. “But after a while, you need to mentally focus, shake it off and just try and put one away.”
Strath Haven regained momentum in the second half; Marcinkowski made eight of her nine saves after intermission. CB East’s defense carried the day.
Plays that wouldn’t appear in the box score, like Patriot freshman Gillian Kane clearing the ball out of her own box at 71 minutes to thwart a Panther attack, or sophomore defender Paige Weiss, CB East’s last line of defense, cutting off a Strath Haven breakaway in overtime and flicking the ball off of a Panther to give CB East possession, prolonged the stalemate.
“I saw that we wanted it more,” Marcinkowski observed. “We didn’t give up and we persevered. That is our goal for the team and we kept up with it.”
Scoring against Strath Haven (15-2-2) wouldn’t be easy. The four-time defending Central League champions came into Saturday night having posted eight straight shutouts.
But CB East was on an offensive roll, having scored 26 goals in its last eight games. The Patriots’ week started on Tuesday, when Shaun Kane’s hat trick led a 5-0 rout against No. 27 Interboro. They followed on Thursday with the four-spot against Conestoga.
“You have to get people out there looking at them,” Eisold responded on prepping for Strath Haven. “That’s what we did. But as much as you want to install a system and try to prepare for it, it still comes down to the players being able to get it done.”
“It’s been crazy,” Loving noted. “We worked hard, but we couldn’t get it done in regulation. Luckily, we were able to focus and get it done here. Over the season, there has been a lot of hard work that has been going on. We’ve been really clicking as a team.”
The Patriots were to face second-seeded Downingtown East on Wednesday evening at Souderton in the district semis (result unavailable at presstime).
“Since we’ve gone into playoffs, we’ve practiced [PKs] every single day. We know that teams will be just as good as us and it may have to go into PKs at the end,” Emmert said.
Thanks to her and her teammates’ efforts, the Patriots guaranteed themselves several more games in which those PK skills could come in handy.
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