MOUNT JOY — When the opportunity for redemption comes around, it’s usually best to keep a level head.
With the Indians’ and Braves’ soccer clubs scoreless through the first 66 minutes of play at rain-slogged Donegal Athletic Complex, Pequea Valley sophomore Josh Heinrich headed-in the game-winner on the Braves’ fourth corner of the second half, propelling his side to an important 1-0 victory Wednesday afternoon.
The win not only evens the Braves’ record at 4-4 in Section Three play, but avenges a 2-1 overtime loss to the Indians (4-3-1) that came earlier in the season.
“I really wanted to win this game, I was upset last game from that loss,” Heinrich stated following his team’s big win. “It just felt really good to get it (the goal) in.”
Held without a corner or shot on goal in the first half, Pequea Valley reversed the playing field with three corners in the first eleven minutes of the second half.
But it wasn’t until Josh Gingrich’s excellent service in the 67th minute that Heinrich — who moments earlier hit the post on a supremely athletic bicycle kick — was able to find a clear path to the ball, heading it past Donegal goalkeeper Josh Myers.
“I think I just thought in my mind ‘go for it’ and don’t let anyone get in the way,” Heinrich said of what made that particular corner successful. “Go all out and just look at the ball, don’t look in front of me, just go for it.”
“It certainly helps that he’s tall,” joked Braves’ coach Peter Bennett. “He’s a hungry, young player. I think there’s a lot of guys like that, that just want to, now that we’re in the back half of the season, just get after it.”
It was the Donegal side who got after it in the first half, accruing three corners and two shots on goal, including a late drive from 36 yards out that was snatched-up by Braves’ keeper Jeff Diegidio (four saves).
Zac Runkle had a handful of clean services into the box for Donegal, as well, but the Indians’ attackers occasionally seemed tentative as they neared the goal.
“Sometimes guys get caught in two minds in this kind of atmosphere and the weather,” Bennett said of each teams’ inability to take advantage of scoring chances. “Do I go, do I sit, do I be disciplined, and I was glad to see it was one of our guys that was able to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Indians’ defender Noah Pennington made a great defensive save early in the second half, backing up Myers (two saves) on a breakaway on the far side and blocking what was the Braves’ first shot on goal.
Conversely, Donegal’s Liam Hershey had a clean shot on goal around the 53rd minute, but Diegidio knocked it down and his defenders were able to clear before the Indians could react to the loose ball.
“I think we just wanted it more than them,” Heinrich said. “We pressured those fifty-fifty balls, we were talking, we have an amazing goalkeeper. Our defense did great today, and yea, I think we all had a pretty good game in the second half.
“I think (Bennett) gave a good speech at halftime,” Heinrich continued. “He brought us out and told us what it felt like last time when we lost. If we wanted to make it to playoffs, we had to win this game and we had to play our best. That was it.”
Pequea Valley 1, Donegal 0
1. PV, Josh Heinrich (Josh Gingrich, corner kick), 67’
CORNERS-SHOTS: PV 4-4. DN 5-4.
SAVES: PV, Jeff Diegidio 4. DN, Josh Myers 2, Noah Pennington 1.