Even though Pleasant Valley's boys' soccer team entered the Mountain Valley Conference league semifinals with a perfect 12-0 record and beat their opponent twice already this season, head coach Chris Pachuta knew that this was by no means going to be easy.
"(East Stroudsburg North's) defense is highly experienced," Pachuta related. "I mean, that's a team that we lost to twice last year and they have talent. They work well together."
Pachuta even saw his team go down 1-0 in the first half, where the score remained through the intermission, until his squad persevered, tied it up, and eventually took the lead and won, 3-1 over the Timberwolves.
In doing so, the locals advance to the championship contest tomorrow night at 7pm at East Stroudsburg South versus Pocono Mountain East. The Cardinals defeated Stroudsburg, 1-0 in the early game last night.
About seventeen minutes into the game, PV goalie AJ Werkheiser went to handle a high ball dropping in front of his net, but the ball ricocheted off him, bounced off ESN senior Daniel Appiatt-Memsah's chest and past Werkheiser for the first goal.
Pleasant Valley challenged throughout the majority of the first half and continued to advance deep into the visitors' territory, but to no avail.
"At halftime, we talked to the guys about finishing plays and with our free kicks and corners, we didn't finish in the first half," Pachuta mentioned. "We really tried to illustrate to the seniors that if we were going to win this, we would have to pick it up."
In the second, PV did that, as senior mid Travis Zilmer took a cross feed from senior mid Malik Krcic, and pounded it past ESN goalie Adrian Garcia to tie things up at the 24:09 mark.
The next eight minutes saw the Bears (18-1, 13-0 MVC), garner plenty of good looks, but ESN's Garcia came up big.
However, at 16:12, Krcic contributed the go-ahead score on a penalty kick, and the victors never looked back, as momentum really started to swing in their favor.
"It's more about heart," Krcic related. "And that's what you have to do against a championship team like (ESN). You gotta have heart and finish the plays."
With eight minutes left, senior mid Tyler Michlik scored unassisted from about the 30 to provide insurance and all but wrap the win up.
For the game, PV outshot ESN 17-2 and constantly were the aggressor. ESN's Garcia stopped sex shots-on-goal in the losing effort.
Looking ahead to the championship game tomorrow night, Pachuta and Krcic know what needs to be done.
"They have one of the best goalkeepers in the league," Pachuta mentioned. "We need to get him moving and challenge him a lot."
"We know how special our team is (at PV) and we took away (PME's) Senior Night," Krcic recalls. The Bears defeated the Cardinals 1-0 recently. "So, they're going to be fired up for us."
The stage is set for the MVC final and tomorrow night, the curtain rises.