PMW stuns Pleasant Vy.
patrick Deutsch/times news Pleasant Valley's Ricky Forte (9) goes up to head the ball against Pocono Mountain West.
It was a bad week in the Poconos for the Pleasant Valley soccer team.
Last week, the Bears' undefeated Mountain Valley Conference season was spoiled in the championship game by Pocono Mountain East.
Wednesday night, Pocono Mountain West upset the Bears, 2-1, in the opening round of the District 11 Class AAAA playoffs.
It was a stunning end to what appeared to be a very promising season for Pleasant Valley.
"No, definitely not," said Pleasant Valley coach Chris Pachuta when asked if he saw this coming. "This is by far the worst game I've seen us play the last two years. There was just something missing today. I'm not sure what it was. I don't know if it was the East game, but there's not really room to make excuses.
"We had to leave it out on the field. Instead, we fell apart the entire team. The program definitely regressed today."
At first, it looked as if the Bears were going to easily duplicate their two prior victories against PM West this season as Tyler Michalik scored on a breakaway with only 1:37 off the clock.
That was all the scoring in the first half, however.
Then, after Pachuta had just given the Bears a halftime speech about "putting the game away," the Bears did the exact opposite.
It took them a little over half to brush aside all the butterflies of just the second ever District 11 playoff berth in school history, but Pocono Mountain West coach Shaun Below eventually saw his team break out.
"The way we played them up at our place (a 3-2 Pleasant Valley victory), we felt we could play with them as long as we could control our emotions and stay in the game," Below said.
"We knew they would come hard with the game they had last week with East. We knew they would be head-hunting. The kids were able to weather the storm. In the second half, we calmed down and won the 50-50 balls. And, everyone saw the result."
With 31:08 left in the second half, Pocono Mountain West's Kody Grlica took a perfect set-up off the foot of Brandon Gushlaw and was able to capitalize on the Panthers' very first shot of the game.
Three minutes and 21-second later, Pocono Mountain West was able to cash in on a corner as Josh Miller lofted a perfect cross in front of the goal and Jon Slinger headed it in for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
"This is an upset on paper absolutely," Below said. "But at the end of the day, high school soccer is about emotion and you could see once our kids felt like they had a chance after we knocked that first one in.
"As the game went on, we started to get bigger and stronger. When you're in a situtation when you can be eliminated, you start to play paniced and it takes you out of your game. I think that's what happened to Pleasant Valley."
The Bears didn't roll over completely as Michael Masullo, Ricky Forte and Malik Krcic all were able to get shots off in the final minutes. But Forte's shot from 20-yards out bounced off the right post and Krcic's header with under a minute to go sailed over the top posts.
"It's one of those things where you just don't know if you didn't get the lucky break or whatever," Pachuta said. "But for a team with this much talent, luck can only take you so far. You got to do it yourself and we didn't do it. That's all there is to it.
"We're disappointed all around from our freshmen all the way up to our coaching staff everyone of us. We let down the school. We let down the community. We let down the program itself."