Van Pelt boots CB West past CB East
Stefan Szygiel is well aware of the rivalry.
He had the opportunity to experience it for the first time from a coach’s perspective last Thursday afternoon at Doylestown’s War Memorial Field.
The Central Bucks West skipper won his debut against longtime Central Bucks East head coach Mike Gorni and the Patriots, 1-0, in an intriguing, early season Suburban One League (SOL) Continental Conference boys’ soccer clash.
“I think the Suburban One is the toughest league top to bottom in Pennsylvania,” said Szygiel, a 2003 alum of CB West, who got his start in coaching at South Hunterdon Regional (Lambertville, N.J.), where he spent two seasons (2009-10) before heading west to lead Haverford in 2011 and 2012.
The Bucks (4-1 overall, 3-0 SOL Continental) sent the Patriots (3-2, 1-2) to their first setback in conference play, courtesy of a Chris Van Pelt blast that beat CB East goalkeeper Dan Chilson with 5:13 remaining in the second half.
“The ball came out of the box and I just brought it down and it fell nicely on my right foot and I just hit it towards the net,” said Van Pelt, a senior midfielder who called the game-winner the “biggest I’ve ever had” against the Patriots.
Jared Kelly sprinted up the right side with the ball, centered it and the ball popped loose in Van Pelt’s direction and he didn’t miss it.
“The ’keeper was screened,” Szygiel said. “That’s good instincts [by Van Pelt] there. And then, boom, it’s in the back of the net.”
Neither team was able to generate many scoring chances. CB East hit the crossbar with about 15 minutes remaining in the second half.
“That was just unlucky,” Patriot senior captain Ryan Vare said, “but we’ll get our chances next time and those will go in for us next time.”
Not unexpectedly, CB East and CB West were even in saves (two each by Chilson and Redd Brown) and corners (two), while the Patriots had two more shots, 8-6, but one less shot on goal, 3-2. It’s no wonder the tilt appeared headed to OT.
“[West] is a great team in our league,” Vare said. “We handled them for a while and we’ll just have to come back out and play our best the next game.”
CB East already owns a victory over Abington, 3-2. The Galloping Ghosts defeated the Patriots for the District One championship a year ago.
“We’re getting there and we’ll be a good team,” Vare said.
While CB East’s success isn’t surprising, CB West hasn’t had the same sort of success over the years, but the Bucks appear to have turned the corner.
“We have 14 seniors, we have a lot of returning varsity players and we realistically have 16 guys who can start and they fight for starting spots every day,” said Szygiel, who singled out Kelly and defenders Cameron Dukes and Brady Boylan for their outstanding efforts against the Patriots.
Van Pelt added: “We’re just executing. It’s all we can do.”
The Bucks hope to keep the momentum going with an eye towards Wednesday, Oct. 2, when CB West will host CB East, at 7 p.m., at War Memorial.
“It’ll be fun,” Vare said. “It’s a night game. It’ll be a great time.”
Although last Thursday’s contest was certainly physical and brought out dozens of student supporters from both schools, in addition to family and friends, Szygiel knows his second meeting with Gorni and company should be more intense.
“The next one will be tougher and it’ll be a night game, so it’ll have that environment of an East-West rivalry,” Szygiel said. “Mike (Gorni) is going to make great adjustments and counter some of the things he saw today, and we’re going to have to do the same things.”
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