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JB packs it in as Greencastle is sent packing

September 14, 2007|By CHRIS CARTER / Staff Correspondent

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The James Buchanan boys soccer team took a rather strange approach to its showdown with No. 1 Greencastle-Antrim on Thursday night.

The No. 6 Rockets elected to concede in order to succeed.

JB yielded ball control to the explosive Blue Devils and focused its attention on crowding the box to limit open looks at the goal, and it paid off as the Rockets scored a 1-0 Mid-Penn Capital upset at Rocket Stadium.

"We played well as a team within a style that minimized Greencastle's effectiveness," said JB coach Mike Dent. "We conceded a good deal of possession, obviously. And that was the intent because Greencastle is such a big, strong, fast, physical team. We figured that if we could limit the opportunities at (one-on-one) situations, it would take something away from them."

The Rockets' strategy to fall back on defense skewed the statistics heavily in favor of previously unbeaten Greencastle. The Blue Devils (7-1, 3-1) outshot JB (3-1, 2-1) 15-5 and held an overwhelming 11-2 edge in corner kicks. But Cory Zimmerman's first-half goal held up to make those numbers moot.

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"We had opportunity, after opportunity, after opportunity, but their defense held tight," said Greencastle coach Chad Divens. "It was a matter of execution. When we put the ball in front of the goal like that, we have to score it."

Greencastle spent little time defending its own goal, which made the offensive struggles even more glaring. The Blue Devils' cross attempts were nicely placed - either on corners or on throw-ins deep in Rockets territory. The only problem was finishing the scoring chances.

Headers either went wide, off the crossbar or into the waiting arms of JB junior goalie Ryan Lum, who finished with six saves. Maybe more important to the Rockets' cause were the several times Lum emerged from a crowd of players to disrupt any possible open looks by Greencastle attackers.

"We know how dangerous those throw-ins and corners can be. That's why we had to get numbers behind the ball," Dent said. "And our side has confidence in (Lum) for the entire 80 minutes. When you have confidence in someone doing their job, it gives everyone else confidence to do theirs."

Lum got a helping hand from senior Spencer Knoll with less than two minutes remaining. Lum dropped out of position during one of Greencastle's desperation attempts to force overtime, but Knoll rushed the box and booted the would-be goal out to preserve the 1-0 edge. Meanwhile, senior Ethan Hummer was responsible for containing versatile Blue Devils midfielder Mac Frederick, whose eight goals are tied for third in the area.

"The key was having 11 players believing in what they can do, despite not having very many possessions of the ball," Dent said. "Being under that pressure wasn't new. If it was new, we wouldn't have been able to win the game like that."

Zimmerman scored his sixth goal of the season in the 30th minute when a direct kick squirted through the Greencastle defense. The ball met the cleat of Zimmerman, who faced an isolated Christian Hoover in goal before sending his shot from 15 yards.

"Brett Hunsberger shot the ball through and it popped free somehow," Zimmerman said. "I just placed it in the far corner."

JV: Tied, 0-0.

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