It made little difference that first-place Burrell generated few, if any, scoring opportunities in the second half against second-place Indiana on Thursday night. When the lights dimmed, the Bucs had inflicted enough damage in a five-minute spurt in the first half to top the Indians in a clash of early section frontrunners.
Burrell buried a pair of goals toward the end of the first half and then held off a strong push from Indiana in the second half to earn a 2-0 win in a WPIAL Section 1-AA boys’ soccer match Thursday at Andy Kuzneski Field.
The loss snapped a five-match winning streak for Indiana (8-2, 3-2 section) that began on Sept. 7.
“We were playing what I would call kick-and-run soccer in the first half,” Indiana coach Todd Myers said. “It wasn’t by coaches’ decision. The players just started doing it. Every time we’d get possession they’d just kick a long pass to one our forwards, and it obviously wasn’t working.”
Indiana goalie Corey Denlinger stymied the Bucs on their first bona fide scoring chance with 7:46 to play in the first half.
Burrell’s Seth Strayer booted a corner kick that Joey Cox headed out of the air toward Indiana’s net, only to watch an alert Denlinger stretch out and get a hand on the shot.
Less than three minutes later, however, an Indiana defender tripped a Burrell forward, resulting in a Bucs’ free kick.
Tom Spagnolo ripped the kick over Indiana’s wall and past a diving Denlinger in the left corner of the net to make it a 1-0 match with 5:26 to play in the first half.
“Unfortunately we tripped a guy, and their player saw an opening and made a great shot in the back of the net,” Myers said. “The player that did it (Spagnolo) is a great player, and I’d expect him to make that shot every time. He’s a fantastic player.”
Just 4:09 later, Spagnolo chipped a nifty feed to a streaking Cox on the Bucs’ right wing. Sensing a vulnerable situation, Denlinger left his crease and charged Cox.
Cox fooled Denlinger, though, pulling up and firing a shot as the senior goalie made his approach. Cox’s shot sailed over the hands of Denlinger and into the back corner of the left side of the net to extend Burrell’s lead to 2-0 with 1:17 to play in the first half.
“We’ve been pressing the last five or 10 minutes of halves. It’s so important to score those goals there,” Burrell coach T.J. Trozzi said.
Indiana struggled throughout the first half at moving the ball into Burrell’s zone. The Indians committed a plethora of turnovers, mainly off long passes, and got whistled for five offside penalities.
“We just didn’t play good soccer in the first half,” Myers said. “Burrell kept putting the pressure on us, and I don’t know what happened, but it almost looked like we gave up after that first goal.”
Indiana produced several scoring chances in the second half, and despite having seven free kicks and a corner kick, failed to genuinely threaten Burrell goalie Justin Schwartz.
Indiana finished with 15 free kicks, nine shots on goal and two corner kicks. Burrell registered six of its seven shots on goal in the first half.
Denlinger had six saves.
“I think we squandered our opportunities,” Myers said. “I don’t think it was as much Burrell’s defense as it was our offense. We created the opportunities. It was just one of those nights we couldn’t put it in the back of the net, but that’s going to happen, because that’s soccer. … But I told the guys after the game, I said ‘If you play the way you played in the second half, there isn’t a team that can beat us in the section.’ They just have to decide to play that way all the time. Not just when they want to.”