BY JEFF FALK
WYOMISSING – It wasn’t the type of opening the Palmyra boys’ soccer team had envisioned for its district opener. But it did help the Cougars come to a conclusion about their conclusion.
Not only wasn’t Palmyra fazed by surrendering an early goal to home standing Wyomissing, it may have provided it with some extra motivation for its District Three Class AA first-round game at the Spartans’ Flannery Field Tuesday evening. Playing with a sense of urgency, the Cougars took it to Wyomossing the rest of the way, scored the next two goals, performed well defensively and walked away with a 2-1 triumph.
Palmyra got scores out of Robby Hanosek and Cameron Bush eight minutes apart late in the first half, before the second stanza was played to a score less draw. The Spartans had taken a 1-0 lead on a Trent Moyer goal, 16 seconds after the Cougars had climbed off their yellow Blue Bird.
The victory improved the tenth-seeded Cougars to 12-6-1 overall and pushed them into Thursday’s quarterfinal round against second-seeded Manheim Central, which edged Twin Valley 3-2. All six of Palmyra’s losses this season have come at the hands of teams ranked among the top ten Class AAA clubs in District Three.
With the defeat, Wyomossing, the number-seven seed, bowed out at 15-5-1.
“I thought we played well, especially when they (the Spartans) scored the first goal 16 seconds into the game,” said Palmyra head coach Craig Tyrell. “When that happens you just have to forget about it and put it behind you, and go from there. We just weren’t awake yet.
“They (his players) did play with a sense of urgency,” Tyrell continued. “But I want them to want to win and play composed.”
For the most part, the Cougars did just that, especially Bush after accepting a service from Griffin Mitchell, 3:54 before the break. With space and time from the middle of the pitch 30 yards out, Bush was afforded an opportunity to size up Spartan keeper Liam Fautley.
Bush chose the upper portion of the net, just below the crossbar, for his well-placed shot. Fautley got both gloves on Bush’s attempt, but it slid through them and into the back of the net.
Bush’s tally would prove to be the game-winner.
“We moved the ball well on Cameron’s goal,” said Tyrell. “And Cameron had time to keep it on target.
“I think they (his players) were ready to play,” added Tyrell. “I think they know they’re good enough to play in districts. There was no doubt in my mind that we could win.”
With momentum on their side but trailing 1-0, Hanosek provided the Cougars with the equalizer with 12:10 showing on the first-half clock.
Hanosek did an admirable job of controlling and settling teammate Kenny Alquist’s long feed into the box. Hanosek then beat a Wyo defender, before sliding a right-footer along the ground inside the far post.
“Personally I think we can win the tournament,” said Tyrell. “We just have to go out and play as well as we did today, or better, and not give up an early goal. There’s not much time to go over things. At this point, it’s one game at a time.”
After out shooting the Spartans 9-2 in the first half, Palmyra was on the wrong end of a 6-3 disparity in second-half shots. But the Cougars did well in keeping Wyomossing’s chances to the perimeter.
In fact, the best second-half scoring opportunity came from the Cougars, when a strike from one of their forwards caromed first off the goal post and then the crossbar, 17:30 after halftime.
With eight minutes remaining in the first half, Hanosek had been stoned by Fautley from in-close.
“We’ve worked on being up a goal and controlling the tempo,” said Tyrell. “We just needed to slow down.
“But I thought closing the ball down was the key for us,” continued Tyrell. “And it’s important for us for our outside defenders to get involved in the play.”
With the rest of the field playing a day earlier, the Palmyra at Wyomissing match was the only District Three Class AA game contested on Tuesday. The game was moved to Tuesday because Flannery Field does not have lights and the fact that the Wyomissing girls’ soccer team hosted an opening-round district game on Monday.