Upper Perk's Erich Keyser vies for the ball against a Phoenixville player in Monday's PAC-10 game.
Injuries, fatigue and a fluke goal combined to send the Upper Perkiomen boys soccer team to a 2-1 defeat at the hands Phoenixville on Monday.
The young Indians, minus four players due to injury and illness, came out flat against the Phantoms, continuing a disturbing trend that has rookie coach Matt Nomland looking for solutions.
“I haven’t conditioned them in over a month. I don’t know if it’s that; I don’t know if it’s the game schedule,” Nomland said. “The last few games we’ve come out real flat.”
The players are also befuddled by their lethargy. Sophomore Tyler Fisher, who scored the Tribe’s only goal, observed, “I think we were all were tired. I was tired myself. I don’t think we were ready for the game. I don’t think we warmed up properly.”
Upper Perk (1-9-1, 2-10-1) did have a chance to grab a quick lead when Fisher and Erich Keyser, playing on an injured ankle, set up Brandon Landis, who nudged the ball wide of the goal in the third minute of play.
After that, even though the first half ended in a 0-0 tie, the Phantoms (5-7, 5-9) controlled the field, especially in the first 20 minutes.
“I think the first 20 minutes of the first half we looked pretty bad. In the second 20, I think we picked it up a little bit. We played smarter at least,” Nomland noted.
In the 26th minute, the Tribe’s only other scoring chance of the half occurred when Garrett French got off a twisting lob that was bobbled by Phantom keeper Bryan Furr but kept out of the goal.
The Phantoms, meanwhile, were applying more consistent pressure in front of Upper Perk keeper Leland Yoder. Phoenixville drew five corners but could not muster a serious scoring threat. Upper Perk was not awarded its lone corner until the 39th minute.
The Tribe’s Tyler Delong played a strong defensive game in front of his net, defusing several potential threats.
“I could have changed a couple of things, but overall I think (the defense) was pretty good,“ said Delong. “We’re pretty solid.”
The Tribe appeared re-energized as the second half began, playing faster than they had at anytime in the first half, and getting a good scoring chance in the 41st minute.
The Phantoms had a chance of their own a few minutes later, but Yoder made his best save of the day, dropping to the ground to stop a hard shot by Justin Wentz.
Not to be outdone, Furr made a brilliant stop on a shot by Elijah Bartholomew as the field opened up for both teams.
Shortly thereafter Phoenixville’s Matt Hackman broke up the right sideline, led James Riggins with a pass, and Riggins then crossed the ball to Ben Simons who headed the ball into the goal at the left post for a 1-0 Phantom lead in the 49th minute.
A couple of minutes later, Riggins directed a kick toward the net that changed direction and bounced into the far corner just out of the reach of Yoder to give Phoenixville a 2-0 advantage.
“It brushed off a shinguard and took a bad bounce. I think it hit one of ours,” Tyler Delong said after the game.
Six minutes later, Fisher scored his first goal of the season after spinning around a defender and lofting a shot high into the net from 40 yards out, and Upper Perk was back in the game with nearly 25 minutes left.
But the Phantoms again clamped down, and the Tribe could muster only one more scoring chance in the game, a header by Bartholomew that was easily handled by Furr with just under four minutes left.
The Tribe had five games remaining after Monday’s contest and Nomland remains hopeful that the team can win most of those games if they can find a way to get their early season energy back.
Upper Perk’s JV team scored a 1-0 win over the Phantoms. Ben Hammill scored the goal, and Chris Mundy stopped 14 shots for the shutout.