Bucks County Herald

New Hope goes to OT to tip Lansdale Catholic

DAVID CAMPBELL



New Hope gathers with the District One/District 12 Class AA trophy. The Lions took home their first regional title on Saturday, nipping Lansdale Catholic, 3-2 in overtime. Jake Zimmerman scored the game-winner a mere 75 seconds into the extra period at Central Bucks West’s War Memorial Field.

Lansdale Catholic kept New Hope-Solebury from advancing to states a year ago.

The Lions prevented the Crusaders from repeating as District One/District 12 Class AA regional champions on Saturday at Central Bucks West’s War Memorial Field.

“The team we played today took us lightly,” New Hope senior Nate Bawduniak said, “and we put them down. We beat them.”

“This is where we should be and it feels great, you know?” junior Nick Fest added.

The Lions had the better of play for large stretches on Saturday; however, after a 2-2 first half, New Hope and Lansdale Catholic needed overtime to settle the score. Only 75 seconds into OT, senior Jake Zimmerman ended it.

“Of course,” Zimmerman replied when asked if his game-winner in the Lions’ 3-2 triumph was the biggest of his career. “No. 1. So far.”

“He dominates out there,” New Hope head coach Dave Bachart said of Zimmerman. “He controls everything we do, so for him to put it away and win this [regional] title is just so fitting. He’s amazing. I want to tell him not to dribble, but he’s a magician out there and you can’t stop it.”

Zimmerman was mobbed by his teammates.

“I had this real feeling of everyone jumping on top of me.

I felt like I was suffocating a little bit, but then I thought, ‘This is what victory feels like,’ ” Zimmerman said with a smile as Fest and Bawduniak laughed.

The Lions trailed the Crusaders twice. Junior Matt McDonald opened the scoring in the 24th minute; junior Jake Jacquemot answered for New Hope 145 seconds later, booting in a Bawduniak free kick that wasn’t fielded cleanly by the goalkeeper. McDonald tallied his second 74 seconds before halftime; Bawduniak responded with the equalizer 16 ticks before intermission.

“The first half,” Bachart said, “I was positive we were going to be up at least 4-2, 4-1. We had our chances. We just weren’t finishing.”

“We came out strong and we were getting the chances but weren’t finishing,” Zimmerman echoed. “I think we got a little frustrated, maybe a little tired by the end. I think we deserved a couple more goals in the beginning, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.”

The Lions have rebounded from an often trying 2016 season. New Hope didn’t get out of the regional semifinals and posted a below .500 record. Last Wednesday, the Lions routed District 12 runner-up Philadelphia Academy Charter, 6-0, and returned to states for the first time since 2015.

New Hope also paid back Lansdale Catholic for ending its 2016 season prematurely.

“We had more heart and we just gave it our all,” Fest said.

“Going into overtime, they wanted this game and they took it,” Bachart added.

The win was emotional for second-year skipper Bachart.

“Going out early last year really hurt them,” Bachart said, “but the heart that they showed, the grit that they had all season long, their dedication to the running that we’ve been doing and the physicality, it’s just been amazing.”

The Lions (15-5-1) opened states with a convincing 6-1 victory over District 11 runner-up Pen Argyl on Tuesday. They will get District Four champion Lewisburg in Saturday’s quarterfinals. Regardless of what happens down the road, nothing can take away New Hope’s regional championship.

“It feels pretty good,” Fest said after Saturday’s trophy presentation. “We deserved it.”

“I think it’s just a great group of kids,” Bawduniak said when asked for a reason for the Lions’ bounce-back year. “We’re all best friends outside of soccer. We play as a team and I think that’s what’s good for us. We’re great friends.”

dcampbell@buckscountyherald.com

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