STROUDSBURG – Pleasant Valley bottled up Stroudsburg's Jordan Ellison for about 79 minutes and 50 seconds.
It was the other ten seconds that the Bears let him get away from them that cost the locals a shot at the Mountain Valley Conference championship game.
Ellison, who figures to be named the league MVP later this weekend, scored with less than six minutes remaining to give Stroudsburg a 2-1 victory in the boys' semifinal soccer game Wednesday night. It was one of just a few good looks Ellison got all night. Fortunately for him and his teammates, he made the last one count.
"It was very nerve-racking because I had an off game," said Ellison. "(Pleasant Valley) knows I like to shoot with my right foot. When I took it back to the left side, I always remember at practice my teammates telling me to shoot with my left, so I went with my left foot and it ended up hitting the post and going in.
"Most of the teams we play either double or triple-team me. It causes a hassle for me, but I just have to fight my way through it. It has been like that for the past two years now so I am getting used to playing like that."
Pleasant Valley (12-6-1) had done a great job of containing Ellison all night. By the time the senior received a pass and looked up, he would usually have two or three Bear defenders swarming around him. Often he tried to make some moves with nifty footwork, but usually ended up having the ball knocked away.
However, for roughly ten seconds late in the second half, Ellison finally had some room to make a play. Ellison received a pass, made some jukes and fired a shot with his right foot from just inside the left corner of the box. The shot was blocked at close range and bounced right back to him. He then shifted the ball to his left foot and kicked a bender that sailed across the front of the net, hit the far post and bounced in for the eventual game-winner.
"This has been the story the last couple of games," said Pleasant Valley head coach Chris Pachuta about the play. "We are doing everything right and we create opportunities. We had a bunch of chances toward the end. We miss a shot here, miss a shot there, we don't get to a ball and then something like that happens.
"We block the first shot and then the second one he gets across. I don't know whether it needs to be a goalkeeper save or the shot needs to be blocked again, but its frustrating because we worked our butts off the entire time and then we give up something like that."
Pleasant Valley scored the game's first goal ten minutes in when Jordan Walters put away a free kick by teammates Jack Wathen. Wathen sent the ball into a cluster of Bears and Mounties from about 50 yards out and had Walters tap it in for the lead.
Roughly 18 minutes later Stroudsburg (17-2) tied it up on an own goal by the Bears when goalie Andrew Hanson let an easy shot play him. Instead of grabbing the ball with his hands, Hanson let the ball hit his chest and bounce off into the net. The keeper did redeem himself eight minutes later by coming out and making a diving stop on an Ellison breakaway attempt, but an unearned goal was already on the board.
Pleasant Valley will now have to move on from its tough loss and focus on district play next week. It is something Pachuta hopes his team can do quickly.
"I hope tomorrow," said Pachuta. "That is our goal now. MVCs are great and we want to win the MVCs, but these seniors have been with me for four years now and I have been harping about districts, districts, districts.
"I am done being one of the big fish in a small pond. I want to get down there and I want to do something in districts instead of waiting around for the MVC all the time."