William Tennent’s and Council Rock South’s boys soccer teams aimed to reverse their early-season trends in their Suburban One Conference National League matchup last Thursday afternoon.
Against the Golden Hawks, the visiting Panthers were seeking their first road win of the year.
The Hawks were seeking to build confidence by maintaining a late-game lead.
Early in the second half, it appeared that South was well on its way to accomplishing its task, after junior midfielder Andrew Rosenfeld had played a part in his team’s pair of first-half goals: assisting on the first goal, by Gavin Hagen in the 30th minute; and scoring the other goal with an assist from Conner Weinberg in the 38th minute.
But Tennent changed the momentum of the match after halftime, as junior midfielder J.T. Stone scored off an indirect free kick in the 45th minute with a quick-tap assist from Pat Molz.
Though the Panthers diligently pressured the Hawks the remainder of the contest in trying to tie the match, South held on for a 2-1 victory.
Besides demonstrating the Hawks’ ability to keep a late lead, Rosenfeld underscored the significance of the win beyond helping the Hawks in the SOL National standings.
“(The Panthers) are a good team: They beat good teams [Bensalem, 3-1, on Sept. 6; and Neshaminy, 1-0, on Sept. 17] that we’ve played so far and haven’t done well against,” Rosenfeld said. “That shows we can beat anyone in the league.”
The Panthers were trailing, 2-0, when a South defender was called for a dangerous-play infraction after falling on top of the ball and making little effort to get up immediately or to play the ball, also obstructing Tennent’s forwards from playing it.
On the indirect free kick about 20 yards away, Stone stood next to Molz as he tapped it, then Stone launched a quick kick into the lower-left corner of the net.
“We were just confused originally on the (dangerous-play) foul, because we thought it was going the other way, then when we realized it was our indirect kick, we ran a (set) play,” Stone said. “... I knew we had to get it off quickly, because they would be pressuring us right away, and I saw that all their guys were on the right side (along the goal line), so I knew I had to put it in the bottom-left corner.”
“We hadn’t had a play like that yet this season, and we talked about it right away,” Molz said. “It definitely put the momentum our way, and we got pressure after that goal.
“I thought, for sure, we’re going to get (another) goal soon, because we had everything going our way, but it didn’t work out.”
Despite the sudden score and their lead cut in half, the Hawks remained unfazed and avoided a here-we-go-again spiral.
“I’m sure some people thought that, but I think we all kinda knew what to do in that situation,” Rosenfeld said. “We’ve had a lot of talks about it with coach (Alan) Nicholl about keeping it calm and not hitting the panic button, he says.
“I guess we all got calm, walked up to the (midfield) line, took our time, then got back into the game.”
Before halftime, the Hawks were just as calm executing both first-half goals.
On the first goal, Rosenfeld made a pass from the right wing across the box to the Tennent goalkeeper’s right, where Hagen deposited a short, left-footed shot into the net with 10 minutes, 10 seconds left in the half.
With 2:51 left in the first half, Rosenfeld finished a similar pass from Weinberg, who had raced down the left sideline before sending a crossing pass to the right side of the net, where Rosenfeld had a relatively easy, right-footed tip-in.
“We work a lot on shooting and trying to hit the bottom corners,” Rosenfeld said. “We also work a lot on finishing off crosses and balls that are hard to control; the pass was right on the money at the back post, and I just had to turn my body a little bit, to adjust and to tap it in.”