BERNVILE — Eighty minutes of regulation weren’t enough for either Cumberland Valley or Central Bucks West to find the back of the net.
An additional two overtime periods of 15 minutes apiece didn’t settle the difference either.
So off to penalty kicks the two teams went to decide the outcome.
Staked to a 3-2 advantage and a chance to ice the game, Bucks junior midfielder Colin Burn slipped his attempt past Eagles goalie Matt Zembetti to give Central Bucks West the 4-2 victory in penalty kicks, ending Cumberland Valley’s season in heartbreaking fashion during the PIAA Class 4A quarterfinal match-up at Tulpehocken High School on Saturday.
Central Bucks West (18-6), the fourth seed from District 1, came into the match with a reputation as a well-organized defensive and possession-oriented team, which it proved time and time again as Cumberland Valley struggled to generate good scoring opportunities.
The Bucks’ imposing defense, led by senior center back C.J. Lang, pushed the Eagles away from the box, forcing long-range shots, and limited their chances to five shots on goal that Central Bucks West goalie Dylan Smith turned away to keep a clean sheet.
But Cumberland Valley (14-9) matched the Bucks defensive stand for defensive stand as the Eagles’ back line was up to the task. Talon Davidson and Max Radosavljevic bottled up the Bucks’ attackers in the middle while Eli Garcia, Ryan Staton and Jesse King all made key plays in front of Zambetti, who made more than his fair share of spectacular saves to keep Central Bucks West off the board.
“To be at this point in the season with literally six days left in the high school season, and we’re out here playing and looking to extend our season, I think our guys just deserve a lot of credit for that,” Cumberland Valley head coach Matt Billman said. “I’m really proud of the kids. They represented our school well.”
After reeling off three wins to get to the District 3 finals and another one in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs, the Eagles’ six-game losing streak to end the regular season became a distant memory as the club came together in the postseason.
“We had a great week in between regular season and postseason, and the kids just took a deep breath and said this is what we want to do, and they did it,” Billman said. “To run off the games we ran off and to get here is awesome.
“Tonight was the first game we had everybody able to play in over a month and maybe even closer to two months. I don’t know how many people know that.”
The Eagles and Bucks both scored on their first two penalty kicks as Dominic Nitecki and Devyn Thomas started the rounds with strong kicks low into the corners for Cumberland Valley. But on the ensuing shots, Bucks keeper Smith guessed right on Radosavljevic’s attempt, and Eric Leach drilled one over the crossbar. It was the advantage Central Bucks West had been searching for all game.
“Don’t let this define you,” Billman said making sure to find Radosavljevic and Leach in the postgame scrum.
“It would have been great to win tonight obviously,” Billman said. “I just think there are a lot of lessons that days, weeks, months, years down the road kids can look back and think this was an impactful moment for me as a young man, and I’m better off because I went through this with a bunch of guys who are my friends.”