Corner kicks have been a big part of the Pleasant Valley boys soccer team's offensive ammunition this year, according to head coach Chris Pachuta.
So it was no surprise to him when it was two goals off corners in the second half that lifted the Bears to a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Easton in the District 11 Class 3A first round contest on Wednesday on the PV turf.
With 48 seconds remaining in regulation, the Bears' Connor Phillips took a corner kick that looked like it deflected off an Easton player for the winning goal.
Phillips placed the ball perfectly in the box in front of the net and the ball found its way into the crease for the score.
"We definitely didn't plan it that way at all," said Pachuta. ""At halftime we got into them a little bit telling them we had to pick up the level. We didn't play particularly well the first half and we knew set pieces were kind of our forte. The first one was a good goal, the second one we got a little lucky."
The first half was filled with pressure defense from both teams and a lot of physical play before Santiago Ramirez put the Red Rovers (8-9-2) in front 1-0 with 8:59 left until intermission. Ramirez fired a shot right at Pleasant Valley goalie Zach Fuls, but he couldn't control it and it rolled into the net.
With 20:32 left in the game, Pleasant Valley midfielder Cole Bernier's corner kick was pushed into the crease by Chris Skutnik to tie the game at 1-1.
"I'll take it, a win's a win," added Pachuta.
The Bears (13-6-1) and the No. 5 seed, will now travel to No. 4 seed Parkland, a 2-0 winner over Whitehall, at a date and time to be determined.
"Corners have been a big part or our ammo lately," Pachuta said. "We lost Harris, our leading goal scorer so we really struggle to score. We were creating opportunities in the first half but we just weren't getting on the end of them. That's a positive out of that half, though.
"We've got to pick it up, we've got to find a way to win and I think that's what we're finally beginning to do.
"That first goal was big (Chris) Skutnik stepped it up as our captain. He's a four-year letter winner and he took it on himself. He didn't want this to be his last game and the team fed off of that."
The Bears had an 11-5 edge in shots on goal and a 7-4 advantage on corner kicks.
Easton goalie Justin Rissmiller had nine saves. Andy Hansen had two saves in goal in the second half for the Bears, while Fuls also had two saves in the first half.