CLARKSTOWN EAGLES EXTINGUISH TORCH TO STAY UNBEATEN

On a very hot Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in Perkasie, PA, the Clarkstown Eagles entered the stadium at Pennridge High School looking to avenge their loss to the Buxmont Torch FC last season on this pitch.

The Eagles did not have to wait long as forward Josue Ortiz headed the ball into the net off a perfect cross from Lucas Befi in just the third minute of play. The battle continued for the next 25 minutes of the first half with neither team threatening until Clarkstown’s Befi took the ball down the left side again making a ground pass to Rocco Menna in the 31st minute that Menna steered into the right side of the Torch net for a 2-0 Eagles lead. This was Befi’s third assist in just the last two games. Befi then took on the Torch keeper one-on-one in the 40th minute, but was denied on a good save, one of many he would make this day. The first half ended with the Eagles having a comfortable 2-0 lead, but the second half play was to be much more competitive.

The Torch came out in the second half with a renewed competitive spirit and started putting pressure on the Clarkstown defense that was feeling the effects of the heat of the day with a couple of defenders having to leave the game. In the 57th minute a Torch player was brought down in the box. This resulted in a PK attempt by Buxmont that was rocketed into the right side netting to make the game 2-1. Just two minutes later, Eagles keeper Bryan Lopez had to make a one-on-one save to maintain the Eagle’s slim lead. But that changed in the 75th minute when the Eagles pulled down a Buxmont player from behind in the box again. The Torch buried a second PK into the Eagle’s net, which knotted the score at 2-2.

The Eagles seemed to renew their offensive desire after the Torch tied the game. They put tremendous pressure on the Torch goalkeeper, who had to make successive jumping one hand saves pushing the ball over the top of the net on three headers coming from successive corner kicks off the foot of Lucas Befi. In the 80th minute the Eagles’ Phil Bannister was denied on a good save by the Torch keeper, but the ball did not make it out of the box. A shot off the crossbar then came out perfectly to the head of Clarkstown’s Yuiy Mazur who headed it into the back of the net, making the score 3-2 Eagles.

The game began to get very chippy in the closing minutes with players going down on both sides. The Eagles keeper was hit for the fourth time in the game and then a Torch player had to leave the game with a shoulder injury after a collision with an Eagles player at midfield. In stoppage time, Clarkstown’s Lucas Befi had a breakaway one-on-one with the Torch keeper, who was 40 yards out from his goal when the keeper barreled into Befi earning him a red card and a seat on the Torch bench. Down to ten men, the replacement keeper had to make a great save on an Ortiz laser shot just before the final whistle sounded with the Eagles winning this day by a score of 3-2.

Eagles owner and head coach Oliver Papraniku had nothing but praise for the Torch keeper, who made at least a half dozen very good saves off of set pieces and one-on-one play.

“Their keeper kept them in the game all day, but we kept the pressure on and eventually were able to put the ball past him for the win.”

Papraniku went on the praise the Eagles’ Befi. “Lucas made great crosses from both set pieces and off the sideline that were the difference in the game today.”

The Eagles remain unbeaten and untied through the first three games of the season with their next match scheduled for Sunday, May 29th on the pitch at Ramapo College against the Electric City Shock.

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