SCHUYLKILL - A late, opportunistic goal in the first half and a second-half surge propelled Phoenixville to a key boys soccer victory over Pottsgrove Thursday afternoon at CAT-Pickering.
The Phantoms' 3-0 triumph over the Falcons vaulted Phoenixville into a berth in the upcoming Pioneer Athletic Conference Final Four playoffs. The Phantoms (7-3, 8-5) guaranteed themselves the second-place position in Division II behind Lansdale Catholic with three games remaining in the league slate while dropping the Falcons from contention at 3-7.
Senior midfielder Nick Ciaverelli contributed one goal and two assists for the Phantoms while junior defenseman Ryan Bournonville and junior forward Doug Pierce also tallied goals for the winners. Junior forward Shannon Cooley also had an assist for Phoenixville. Sophomore goalkeeper Eric Carr made seven saves in the shutout.
The Phantoms played their second of three games in three days. They had a 5-2 non-league loss to Methacton Thursday before Friday's clash on a chilly, windy afternoon. The Phantoms have a make-up contest at 10 a.m. today at Boyertown. Their other remaining league games are against Lansdale Catholic and Pottstown.
"This is a big win," said Nick Ciaverelli, who is a tri-captain along with Pierce and twin brother and defender Joe Ciaverelli. "That (second place in Division II) has been Phoenixville's goal all season."
Phoenixville managed a 1-0 halftime lead when Nick Ciaverelli launched a kick from out of bounds on the left side to the high, far right corner of the net that Pottsgrove freshman keeper Brandon Novitski (12 saves) deflected into the goal.
"That (goal) was tough on them (Falcons)," said Phoenixville coach Ryan Bombick. "They played an even first half at 0-0 and instead have a heartbreaker and are behind 1-0."
The Falcons made an attempt to tie the game 16 minutes into the second half, but the apparent tying goal was disallowed on a key offsides call. Bombick said that was another momentum switch to the negative side against the Falcons.
Phoenixville capitalized on the break as Bournonville scored his first goal of the season from mid-range in the next minute for a 2-0 lead. Pierce's insurance goal came four minutes later.
"We have a stud defense," Nick Ciaverelli said. "They have been clutch all season. They came through big in big games."
Juniors Robert Newcomb, Allan Moreland and Andrew Moakes are other members of the Phoenixville defensive corps.
Senior midfielder Andrew Eldridge had his usual steady game, controlling the ball and taking long shots and throw-ins.
"We played much better in the second half," Bombick said. "The first half we didn't play our game. We didn't control the midfield and the headers. The second half we kept the ball on the ground well.
"We talked at halftime about playing a full 40 minutes. We knew it was a big game. The second half we wanted to come out and put two more in the net. Our defense played great the second half. The whole team did. We got some good rest for our starters and got the reserves in since we are playing (Saturday)."
Pottsgrove had some good chances by junior Ryan Christopher, sophomore Sam Carlson and freshman defender Jordan Klinger.
Falcons coach Jay Witkowski has a young roster with three seniors, two juniors, four sophomores and seven freshmen. Six of the ninth graders are in the starting lineup.