Roar for Four
New Hope tops Faith to claim soccer title
The New Hope-Solebury Lions had all the ingredients needed to be a state-playoff-bound soccer team, on Halloween night at Council Rock North.
Great goaltending. Crisp passing. Not panicking when they were down a goal.
But ask anyone on New Hope’s (11-6-1) staff and they’ll credit heart as the main driver of the No. 2-seed Lions’ 2-1 double-overtime District One Class A upset title win over No. 1-seed Faith Christian Academy.
“The fight and the heart the boys have,” New Hope head coach Ollie Hilliker credited. “We have eight seniors on this team and they don’t want the season to end.”
“They have some very big, very physical kids on their team,” senior defender Jack Natale noted. “When we played them last time, they got the best of us. But today, I thought we connected well. We got to our midfielders well. We were able to get to our strikers’ feet.”
Sophomore midfielder Riley Smith’s header with 4:37 left in the second overtime clinched the fourth consecutive District One title for New Hope-Solebury. It was set up by Connor Smith’s outstanding throw-in.
“When they scored their first goal, I take responsibility for that,” Smith admitted. “When I got the ball, I knew that was my time. I got this big adrenaline rush. I put everything I had into the throw, and we scored a great goal.”
“We knew it was going to be a tough match,” Faith head coach Ryan Clymer conceded. “They have a great midfield. We thought we were going to have more success with our two big forwards. It didn’t come out that way. They came out with a lot of enthusiasm and energy.”
“In the last 15 minutes, everyone was hurt but everyone decided to win this for the seniors,” Smith declared. “They deserved that fourth.”
Faith (19-2), which also sports the Lions’ moniker, defeated New Hope-Solebury, 3-1, 13 days prior. Standout Jack Henley’s two goals led the way that day.
The district title game was a different story. Faith is a bigger team and they controlled possession for most of the first half.
Faith got on the board 29 minutes into the game. Senior Dylan Papiernik launched a tracer from 30 yards out that curled into the upper right corner of the goal.
New Hope struck just two minutes into the second half with a tracer of its own: Bucknell-signee Natale blasted a 35-yard free kick that threaded traffic and found the goal for the equalizer.
“When I hit a free kick, I usually hit a cross and I try to put it on frame,” Natale stated. “Sometimes you get lucky and it bounces in. We got lucky on that one; it went into the top left corner.”
“We start slow. But I have patience and faith that the boys will come through,” Hilliker offered. “That is something we need to sharpen in our game, to get as far as we want to go. When we got Jack’s goal, that was such an important time to score.”
New Hope midfielder Christian Oliveira nearly put the game away in regulation twice: once at 50 minutes when his cross hit the crossbar and once with 9:30 left. Faith ’keeper Chad Petipren, who had seven saves on the night, made an excellent diving play to his right against Oliveira’s shot to save a certain goal.
For a few seconds in the first overtime, Faith seemingly had the game won. Murilo Da Silva thundered a kick off of New Hope ’keeper Lucas Ebeling, who had nine saves on the night. Junior Cole Adams placed the rebound in the net, but was called for being offsides.
Ebeling had three saves in the overtime periods.
“We had opportunities at the end of the first and opportunities at the end of the first overtime,” Clymer said. “Their goalie came up huge tonight.”
“We’ve been doing a lot of fitness work in-season, not just out of season. I refuse to lose a game because of fitness,” Hilliker declared. “The style of play we play of passing the ball makes them run around the field and makes them tired. But when they play long, we get our breather in. The midfielders don’t have to do quite as much.”
It was a disappointing end to an outstanding fall
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