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Sports Article
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Upper Perkiomen Soccer Posts District Playoff Win
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            Michael Fisher removed his white jersey and ran towards the far sideline with his arms raised in celebration. Fisher's Upper Perkiomen soccer teammates

Michael Fisher, right, battles for a loose ball in Upper

Perkiomen's post-season victory over Pottsgrove.

sprinted in the same direction, surrounding him near the bleachers to celebrate the team's first district victory in 13 years, when the team played for a district title.

            Fisher's goal during penalty kicks lifted the Indians to a 1-0 victory over host Pottsgrove in the opening round of the District One Class 3A Tournament on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Head coach Kyle Fisher lauded the performance of goalkeeper Patrick McHale, who single handedly kept them in the game though regulation and two overtime periods.

            The coach described Upper Perkiomen's victory as crucial to the development of the program – which defeated Holy Ghost Prep and Lansdale Catholic in the 2005 Class AA Tournament before losing 2-0 to Great Valley in the title game – into a perennial district contender.

            "This is a great first step towards that goal," Kyle Fisher said.

            Five days later, Upper Perkiomen ended its season in a 10-1 loss to Strath Haven in the district semifinals. Cole Kendra scored the team's only goal in the first half on an assist from Kyle Shemeley. Nate Perrins paced the No. 2 seeded Panthers with five goals. Kyle Fisher described Perrins as a dynamic player, the best his team faced all season.

            "We knew the game would be a test for sure," the coach said. "I can't say I expected us to lose the way we did."

            According to Kyle Fisher, the players learned they have a long way to go achieve their ultimate goal, which is to win the district and compete in the state tournament. He said Strath Haven presented itself as a program to emulate.

            The Indians, who nearly won the Pioneer Athletic Conference's Frontier Division, entered the district tournament as the No. 6 seed. Against Pottsgrove, McHale stopped 17 shots over 80 minutes of regulation and 30 additional minutes of overtime to preserve a scoreless tie.

            "I was just trying to do my best," said McHale, a junior. "I was doing what I could do to keep us in the game. "This is probably the best I've played all season."

            Kyle Fisher described McHale as "an absolute beast in the back." According to the coach, the junior goalkeeper made four or five "outstanding 10-bell saves."

            The Falcons had multiple opportunities to win in regulation. With seven minutes left, Mike Troutman hit the cross bar on long shot in traffic. Two minutes later, Justin Collings's one-timer deflected off the cross bar.

            McHale registered seven acrobatic saves in the first overtime, diving to his right with 9:45 remaining, blocking a high shot from the left wing with 3:30 remaining and punching a loose ball over the crossbar on a penalty corner with 2:12 to go.

            He caught a penalty corner kick with 50 second left in the second overtime period to force the shootout.

            Playing without Ian Costanzo (absence) and Bryce Lesko (injury), Upper Perkiomen – which managed three shots on goal – fought overtime exhaustion to reach the shootout. According to the coach, the defenders did a good job rotating to keep their shape.

            "We were happy to get the shootout," Kyle Fisher said.

            Pottsgrove converted three of five penalty kicks against McHale. Joe McMichael, Austin Dunar, Jack Cupitt and Michael Fisher scored for the Indians during the shootout.

            "The boys were thrilled to beat Pottsgrove in that fashion," the coach said. "To say we were happy to be there after nearly winning the division and making districts pretty accurate."

            Despite losing four key seniors – Costanzo, Tyler Raymond, Nick Matson and Mike Sitko – the team's goal for next season is to contend again for the division title and advance further in the district playoffs, according Kyle Fisher.

            "Going into next season the team should have a lot of confidence," the coach. "If boys do what necessary in the offseason, we could be able to compete for all our goals."






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