imi Leder scored a golden goal to give No. 23 CB West (10-7-5) a 2-1 road playoff win after the Bucks faced a 1-0 halftime deficit.
The first time came at No. 7 Radnor in the second round of the District One Class 4A tournament.
Leder’s most recent heroics came at a soggy No. 11 Neshaminy (14-8) Tuesday. His goal with 2:12 elapsed in overtime advanced West to Friday’s playback game at No. 4 Unionville for the fifth and final spot in states.
“It was a long throw-in and one of our guys headed it forward,” Leder described Tuesday. “I was just in on goal, slid it through the goalie’s legs and took my shirt off. It was nice.”
“Obviously, it was going to be a tight one tonight and I feel there are a lot of similarities (with Neshaminy),” CB West coach Stefan Szygiel commented. “They are very hard to break down in the back. It was going to be a set piece or a second ball opportunity for either of us.”
It was a quiet first half until West keeper Ryan Van Pelt made a great save of a shot launched six feet away in the 17th minute. Four minutes later, the Redskins’ Gavin Rowan scored off of the evening’s first corner kick.
West possessed more than their hosts but Neshaminy led 1-0 at halftime. The Redskins’ bazooka-legged keeper Trevor Rush neutralized much of that advantage.
“The past couple of games, we’ve been down in the first half so we’re coming out in the second half as strong as we can,” said Alan Zlotin. “We changed our whole formation and tried to press, press, press.”
Zlotin knotted the game at 1 on an unassisted header with 24:05 left in West’s season.
“I’m always anticipating the run so I have my midfielders flicking it on and playing it through to me,” Zlotin described. “I made that run, went one-on-one with the keeper and beat him to it.”
Van Pelt, who had six saves on the evening, made his second great one with two minutes left in regulation – leaping to deflect a Redskin shot on goal.
“I’ve been in this situation and these kinds of games before,” Van Pelt shared. “It’s muscle memory at this point and doing what came natural to me. I wasn’t ready to let my team go home yet. My defense has been helping me the entire season by blocking shots and chasing balls down to make sure there are no second chances.”
CB West was a six seed when it claimed the 2018 District One Class 4A crown. This year’s version of the Bucks entered the district tournament as the 23rd seed … second to last. Yet CB West is still fighting to try and clinch a third straight trip to states.
“What seeds?” asked Szygiel. “That’s how we look at it. I’ve been here for seven years. We’ve been single digits, teens and 20s. We’ve won and lost all along the tournament. We value getting in the tournament.”
Tuesday marked West’s third playoff road win in four tries. “We’ve been training for this moment. We’ve been in so many overtime games,” Leder offered. “They were a young team and we were the more experienced team. The score showed it.”
The Bucks played four non-conference games against top 10 seeds of the District One tournament, tying two.
“It was a heck of a schedule. At first I thought, ‘What did I do to this poor team?’” Szygiel admitted. “But I think all of that prepares you for late season soccer.
“Tonight was about survival and advance,” the coach said. “I’m confident we laid almost everything possible on the line tonight.”