By: John Knebels
Photos: Patty Morgan
WYNDMOOR, PA –When the horn blared to indicate that this afternoon’s game was over, Lansdale Catholic had become the talk of the Catholic League boys’ soccer community. But the players and coaches maintained a proper perspective.
Indeed, the Crusaders’ 2-0 victory over previously undefeated La Salle – on the Explorers’ home turf no less – was a stunner. Although it remains not fully corroborated, it is believed that it might be the first time Lansdale Catholic has defeated La Salle (now 5-1), a perennial championship contender.
However, since half of the regular seasons beckons, beating La Salle is, in the grand scheme, just a really great victory.
“It definitely boosts our confidence, and hopefully that will give us some momentum heading into Tuesday, ” said junior goalie Kellan Ward, referring to LC’s 3:45 home contest against always-rugged Roman Catholic, which has played for the league title five straight seasons. “But we have to stay focused. We can’t get overconfident. Roman is a great team. It will be a great challenge.”
The Crusaders, now in first place with a 5-0-1 record, seized a 1-0 lead about eight minutes into the first half on a highlight reel goal by senior Evan Senour.
“I passed the ball up to (senior forward Jimmy Alff) and received it back from him, and with a little bounce I decided to hit it from outside the box,” said Senour. “It’s a shot on goal you have to try every once in a while, and this time it paid off. It was an awesome feeling seeing it hit the post and go in.”
Instead of shifting gears and relying on defense, Lansdale Catholic didn’t change its strategy of balancing aggression with caution.
That changed with about 15 minutes left when senior Brendan Mackay scored on a rare breakaway to double LC’s lead. Now with a two-goal lead, defenders such as junior center backs Owen Webster and CJ McNally shifted to a more conservative approach.
“We switched to more of a defensive game,” said senior center-midfielder Sean Cole. “You always try to take control of what you can.”
Until then, Ward had needed to be particularly sharp during LaSalle’s excellently designed corner kicks. Midway through the second half, Ward also was able to stop a laser drive from close in, blocking the dangerous attempt and pinning the ball to the ground before scooping it out of harm’s way.
Once Lansdale Catholic scored an insurance tally, Ward said he could breathe a bit easier.
“When that second goal goes in that late in the game, it takes a lot of pressure off me and the defenders,” said Ward, who has yet to surrender a league goal. “I have the same mindset, though – don’t give up any goals.”
Despite the magnitude of the win, Lansdale Catholic enjoyed a modest celebration before shaking hands with the Explorers.
“This a great team win and well deserved after all the hard work we put in every day,” said the aforementioned Alff, who assisted on what proved to be the winning goal. “We’re not only a team; we’re a family on the field.
“Everything today was a team effort and couldn’t have been done with a better group of guys.”
Cole said although he was “thrilled” with the win, it’s “onto our next game.”
During the handshake, Cole consoled his brother Joe, a sophomore outside back who plays for the Explorers.
“He’s a great player and I’m really proud of him,” said Sean. “He was understandably upset that La Salle lost, but then again, I was upset last year when they beat us (in both the regular season and playoff quarterfinals).”
(Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.)