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When push comes to shove

September 25, 1999|By BOB PARASILITI

When push comes to shove: 'Cats press way to 4-1 victory

WILLIAMSPORT - Jason Knicely and the Williamsport soccer team knew they had to get in the middle of something to beat St. Maria Goretti on Saturday.

For Knicely, it was in between the pipes. For the Wildcats, it was in between the Gaels' ears. Each succeeded in pulling off a 4-1 victory in a highly physical match.

[cont. from sports page]

Knicely scored two goals against his former teammates, including the one which sealed the victory in the 66th minute, while Williamsport won the cerebral battle of emotions to maintain an unbeaten record.

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"I'm not taking anything away from Goretti, but when the match got physical, they got wound up in the physical aspect and the crowd," Williamsport coach Stan Stouffer said. "We talked about it for a couple days. We knew this match would be physical. We didn't want to get caught up in it. We kept our focus."

The match and crowd reactions resembled roller derby - elbows and grabbing, cheers and jeers as each team jostled for position. Knicely hustled in the background while the in-fighting remained in the foreground.

Knicely left-footed a goal in each half - the first in the 36th minute off a Carlos Gomez crossing pass to stake Williamsport (7-0) to a 2-0 halftime lead and the second on a big blast off a sweet pass from Ryan Mease to shut down the Gaels' momentum.

And it was all for one reason ... peace of mind.

"I played at Goretti last year and I wanted to beat them really bad," Knicely said. "It was really important we won this game because I didn't want to hear it for the rest of the year how they beat me."

Williamsport's aggressive push on offense and goal-saving defensive play in front of keeper Josh Miller kept Goretti (6-3) out of the flow. Then, the emotions of the game did the rest.

"It was very physical, but playing a county school always raises the level of the game," Goretti coach Marty Wills said. "They pressured with the ball offensively and defensively. Each team had some missed opportunities that could have changed the game."

Gomez scored on a low shot to the left side of the goal in the 17th minute to get Williamsport on the board before assisting Knicely's first score. The Wildcats took a 3-0 lead in the 50th minute when Mease scored off a pass from Knicely.

Goretti got its only goal and took over momentum momentarily A.J. McGarity headed home a Ben Hood crossing pass in the 57th minute before Knicely ended any comeback bid.

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