Boys soccer: Late goals by Christ and Sharon help Spring-Ford overtake Owen J. Roberts



ROYERSFORD – Persistence, patience and pride.

Those were the three key ingredients that fueled Spring-Ford’s thrilling 2-1 comeback victory over Owen J. Roberts Tuesday night in Pioneer Athletic Conference boys soccer action at Coach McNelly Stadium.

Persistence – as in staying on the attack and keeping up the pressure until Ryan Christ buried James McCormack’s perfect crossing pass with 8:09 remaining to forge a 1-1 tie.

Patience – as in Stevie Sharon staying composed in the crease and calmly depositing the game-winning goal into the back of the net on another picturesque high cross from David Gulati with 3:34 left.

Pride – as in remembering that as the defending PAC-10 champions, the Rams have a tradition to uphold.

All of those components came together at the wire for Spring-Ford in the Liberty Division matchup pitting two of the league’s elite programs.

“When Ryan scored, we were pumped up to keep it going,” said Sharon after the Rams evened their PAC-10 slate at 1-1-1. “After starting (the league) with a loss and a tie, today we showed we’re still fighting. We’re back in business.”

Spring-Ford keeper Wes Counts was all business, finishing with five saves – many of them highlight-reel caliber. Counts had several diving stops to keep the Wildcats from extending a 1-0 lead that was provided by the lethal right foot of Paolo Chavarria, whose 35-foot tracer bullet from the left wing found the top right corner of the net over Counts’ outstretched arms.

Later, Counts stoned Chavarria on a breakaway attempt with a sprawling save at the 8:09 mark, and the Rams transitioned to the south end of the stadium for the equalizer.

“Wes played tremendous soccer,” Spring-Ford coach Doug Landis said of his athletic goalie. “He was getting down and dirty, coming out of the box and making great saves. He kept us in it.”

Spring-Ford was definitely in it to win it.

“Our guys aren’t going to quit,” said Landis. “We’ve been trying to get the players to play as a unit, and tonight was the first time they did that.”

After a scoreless first half that was back and forth all the way, the Wildcats struck first on Chavarria’s goal just 2:06 after intermission. The Wildcats, who had a 4-3 edge in corners and equaled the Rams’ shot total of 6, had chances to extend the lead.

But each time, Counts and Spring-Ford delivered a stern response.

“We played well enough at times, but we didn’t put them away when we had the chance,” said OJR veteran coach Dave Rhen. “They deserve credit, they played with a lot of pride. We knew they weren’t going away.”

The arrival may have been delayed, but the timing was perfect for the Rams, who got their first victory of the season on their fourth try.

“It was an awesome comeback,” said Sharon. “The one thing I was focused on was getting the ball in the goal. It was mostly instincts, I guess. The goal was lucky, it was all David.”

No doubt, David Gulati had a lot to do with the outcome, racing down the left wing and sending a dead-on pass to Sharon at the 18-yard line. The junior forward did the rest, beating OJR keeper Kyle Baker (4 saves) from in front of the net.
“I wanted my strikers to go hard up top, and we wanted the mids to follow,” said Landis. “Gulati worked his way outside, and Stevie was in the right position at the right time.”

NOTES: The loss drops OJR to 1-1 in the league, 1-2 overall … Rhen: “We let this one get away. But we have a lot of experience and we know what needs to be done.” … S-F senior midfielder Josh Dishman, one of the few experienced players on a young club, played some off the bench, returning from a dislocated toe sooner than expected. “It limits me some, but I felt pretty good out there,” said Dishman.