Midd-West can’t hold lead, falls in double overtime

Brian Carson

LEBANON — Midd-West outplayed New Hope-Solebury in every phase of the game except the one that mattered most: on the scoreboard.

The Lions scored the game-winner with 8:59 left in the second overtime to hand the Mustangs a 3-2 defeat in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 2A boys soccer championships on a cold Saturday afternoon at Cedar Crest High School.

“I can’t say enough about our kids and how they battled. The opportunities were there and we couldn’t capitalize on them,” Midd-West coach Mark Ferster said. “We talk about it before every game how important those chances are when you have them, not to squander them away. I truly believe our focus was there. The ball just didn’t find the back of the net.”

Midd-West (19-4) had two goals from Carter Knepp, who finished his senior season with 32 and 92 for a career.

“This is my first year at the helm and (Chris) Sauer built this program the past 14 years. He knew walking away what was here and what he built,” Ferster said. “We’re going to miss our nine seniors moving on with seven of them getting ample playing time, but I believe the heart is there for us to get back here and make this one of our goals. The amount of effort and the work rate they’ve given is something special.”

The Mustangs took a 1-0 lead less than five minutes into the game when Nick Eppley was tackled from behind in the box. Knepp took the penalty kick and put it in the back of the net for the goal at 35:16

Midd-West returned the favor for New Hope-Solebury (16-6) when Ben Koeppen drew the penalty for an in-the-box tackle. Koeppen took his own penalty kick and evened things up at 1-1 with 26:46 left in the first half.

Midd-West took a 2-1 lead at the half after Knepp received a perfect through ball from Ty Wagner, dribbled to the net and put it by Lion keeper Kyle Campbell for the go-ahead goal with 5:11 on the first-half clock.

In the second half, the Mustangs squandered plenty of opportunities to score all the while keeping the hopes of New Hope-Solebury alive.

Knepp had a shot bounce off the post, Connor Erdley had a clear one-on-one shot against the goalie go wide right and Nick Eppley had his header off a corner connect with the crossbar.

“We had so many chances. We out-shot them, but we couldn’t find that corner of the goal. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way,” Ferster said.

The Lions took advantage of the Mustang miscues and tied the game with 19:55 left in regulation. Justin Kruse was in the right place at the right time, putting in the rebound of a Davis Nagg shot that bounced off Mustang keeper Chase Roush.

The first overtime was like regulation with physical defensive play and few decent shot opportunities.

“We knew they were physical coming into the game. They are very aggressive to the ball with a lot of pushing from behind and I think at first that frustrated us a bit,” Ferster said. “We weren’t mentally prepared being whacked in the back with nothing being called. A different style of soccer may be down here. We’ve always been strong to the ball, but we couldn’t get anything going today.”

New Hope ended the game when Midd-West couldn’t clear. Koeppen stole the ball, dribbled down the center of the field and pushed a shot to the right corner, just out of reach by Roush for the game-clincher. The Mustang staff argued Koeppen was offside.

“We had an opportunity to clear down here. We left it for them and they found the back of the net,” Ferster said. “What can you do? Say what you want. Whether he was offside or not, you have to play to the whistle and obviously, not allow the referees to be a factor in the game, just play and finish when you have the chance.”

Midd-West won the shots 18-12 with Knepp leading the way with seven. The corners were even at 4-4. Roush had five saves for the Mustangs and Campbell had six for the Lions.

New Hope-Solebury 3, Midd-West 2 (2OT)

First half

MW–Knepp (penalty kick), 35:16. NH–Ben Koeppen (penalty kick), 23:46. MW–Knepp (Ty Wagner), 5:11.

Second half

NH–Justin Kruse, 19:55.

Second overtime

NH–Koeppen, 8:59.

Shots: MW 18-12. Corners: 4-4. Saves: MW-5 (Chase Roush), NH-6 (Kyle Campbell).