By Lisa Byers
The 2012 season was a stellar one for the Saegertown boys soccer team.
A great deal of that success, which included a District 10 Class AA playoff berth, was due to its rock solid defense featuring first team All-Region 4 selections Jeff Mattocks and Greg Bras and second team goalkeeper Ross Ferguson.
Those three, however, just so happened to be among a large and talented 2012 graduating class that also included second team forward/midfielder Eric Brocious. So just how the Panthers would perform in 2013 was anyone’s guess.
The early verdict: pretty darn good.
The Panthers moved into a tie for second place in Region 4 on Monday with a 6-0 win over Oil City and are in position, past the midway point, to earn a District 10 Class AA at-large playoff berth. And while the Panthers’ offense shined yesterday afternoon, their somewhat surprising season has once again come thanks to an outstanding display on defense.
Through the first 12 games of the season, the Panthers have allowed just 16 goals total. That a 1.33 goals against average.
“It’s been great,” Saegertown coach Ryan Schenck said. “The players we lost were our goalkeeper, our two center backs, which were Pete’s brother (Jeff) and Greg Bras, and they were both like 6-foot-2 and they were good with the ball on the ground. So in the air and on the ground, they ate everything up and cleaned up everything.
“Did I think Peter (Mattocks) and Lawrence (Brumbaugh) would do as well? Somehow they have. Zach (Coon) has done well in goal … Somehow it has all worked out.”
That defense, which also got plenty of help from Jesse Stewart and Chris Courson among others, allowed just one shot on goal by the Oilers. And rarely was Oil City able to maintain possession of the ball in Panthers territory.
The Panthers, meanwhile, attacked from the get-go and by halftime led 4-0. Matt Schenberg scored the first goal just over seven minutes in and then roughly three minutes later headed in a pass from Andrew Flynn for a 2-0 advantage.
At 30:26, Mattocks, who missed five shots prior, extended the Panthers’ lead to 3-0 when he punched in a penalty kick with ease. Schenberg added his third goal of the game off his own miss for the 4-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Brumbaugh intercepted a pass just beyond midfield and dribbled the ball the whole way down before punching it in for the Panthers’ fifth goal of the game. Mattocks added his second goal on an assist by Nathan Duffy to cap the Panthers’ scoring.
“Saturday was a pretty good effort,” Schenck said of the Panthers’ 1-1 tie against Meadville. “We had some guys fill some roles that they hadn’t filled before and they did really well. A couple of those guys showed some more today and we finished some chances early and were able to get those guys some more opportunity to show what their potential is.
“So it was good to see some of those newer guys and a first-year senior player do some good things (yesterday). It was nice to see them have an opportunity to shine as well as the guys who normally do.”
The Cats moved to 7-4-1 overall and 2-2-0 in Region 4, tied with Warren (2-7-0, 2-2-0 Region 4), which knocked off Corry yesterday afternoon. That sets up a big game for the Panthers on Wednesday when they play host to Corry.
The Beavers (5-4-0, 1-2-0) beat the Panthers 1-0 earlier this season.
“We need to play better defense, a lot better defense,” Stewart said. “We need to stay with ball all goal side. That’s basically it.”