The difference ended up being the Warriors converting in the half they had the majority of control while its defense kept the Eagles at bay when the visitors dictated the pace; King Philip picking up a 1-0 decision in the D1 South Quarterfinals.
“We struggled to score a little bit today but you expect a battle at this point in the season,” King Philip head coach Nick Gale said. “I think if a couple of those went in, we would have been better off but I have a lot of respect for BC High. They are a good program historically and they were a good program again this year.
“We were prepared to battle. We made it a little bit more difficult on ourselves but not scoring more goals but at the same time, I love the heart and character my guys had today.”
King Philip was in control from the opening whistle, notching a pair of serious scoring chances in the first 20 minutes of the game and adding good looks on a pair of corner kicks.
In the sixth minute, Larsen Keys and Anthony Bozza connected with a one-two sequence before Keys delivered a service into the area. Thomas Lugten rose up and met the cross with his head, forcing BC High keeper Mike Ball to leap and tip the ball just over the bar.
In the 15th minute, Bozza served in a corner that senior Cam Mullins jumped up to meet, nodding his header towards the near post but Ball was quick to get down and make the stop.
In the 28th minute, senior Colby Koch did well to get some space from his defender, took a touch to his left and hit a low shot that was deflected but Ball did well to recover and make the diving save.
Finally, after a handful of early chances, the Warriors were able to break through just before the half hour mark. The ball bounced out to the top of the area in front of Lugten and he connected on a volley. The ball hit the bottom of a BC High defender who had jumped to block the shot. That deflection put the ball right inside the far post, sneaking under Ball to put KP up 1-0.
The Warriors were unable to find a second before the halftime break. From the opening whistle of the second half, the Eagles seized control of the game. Using a kick and run direct style of play, BC High tried to expose a weakness in KP’s defense but were unable to.
“We made defense a priority today because we’re going to have to be a good defensive team to keep good opponents from scoring goals,” Gale said. “We tried to create as many transitional opportunities by winning the ball back quickly. Defense was definitely a priority.
“[BC High] played direct balls quite a bit [against Quincy] – we knew that’d be tough to defend against all the time. That late offsides call was a blessing. Overall we defended well though. At this point in the season, you have to be able to defend the direct play.”
King Philip’s defense was strong in the air, continually clearing away long balls from the Eagles.
The Warriors did have some chances in the second half, but Ball was fantastic in net for BC High.
In the 58th minute, a long throw fell to the feet of Koch, who was on the edge of the six yard box. Koch tried to turn and shoot but Ball made the save in close. In the 60th minute, Keys flashed a header just wide off a corner kick from Bozza.
BC High finally had a service sneak through King Philip’s defense in the 63rd minute but Warrior goalie Eli O’Neill was quick off his line and gobbled the loose ball before an Eagle could get a touch.
Mike Rowe made a nice cut inside the area to get free in the 67th minute but his shot was denied by Ball. The rebound fell to the feet of Koch but he was unable to get around it before BC High cleared it.
As the final minutes ticked away, BC High pushed number forward, allowing KP to get off on a break. Tyler Mann fed Koch in alone on goal. Koch did well to wait for Ball to make his slide and tried to elevate the ball over the keeper but an impressive one hand saved knocked the ball down. The rebound fell to Koch but before he could slot it in, Ball dove back into position and handled the follow up.
Seconds after Ball’s double save, it looked as though BC High had found the equalizer. After a service was cleared out, the Eagles dropped another ball back in behind the defense. The ball deflected its way to a wide open Ryan Cuozzo behind the defense, who buried the ball at the far post but the refs whistled for offsides. KP was able to kill off the last minute without another threat.
“It was a little frustrating at times but I told the guys they had to be disciplined,” Gale said. “At this point in the tournament, it’s going to be frustrating sometimes, you’re not going to win every single battle. It’s important to continue to make sure your disciplined in what has brought you success all season long.
King Philip boys soccer (17-1-2) advances to the D1 South Semifinal to take on #4 Braintree on Wednesday at 5:30 at Brockton High School. The Wamps beat Attleboro 2-1 on a goal late in the game to reach the semifinal.
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