Looking to sweep the season series with Wayne Valley and spoil senior night, Wayne Hills made the short trip down Valley Road losers of two of the last three contests and hungry for a win.
Matt Cossari had the best look at goal in the 27th minute of the second half, but his low rocket just missed clipping the left post. Four minutes later however, the senior would got his chance at retribution.
When junior Tyler Kulsar ran onto a unselfish pass from Matt Zysman at the edge of the 18-yard box and pounded a worm burner to Rodolfo Mercurio’s left, the rebound off a sprawling save found Cossari at point blank range.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Cossari said of having the ball come onto his feet in such a fortuitos position with a vulnerable goaltender. "I didn't really aim it I was just trying to hit the target as hard as I could.
While Valley's senior keeper did well to stop the initial shot, Cossari mad no mistake on the doorstep and tucked home the rebound five-hole to lift the Patriots to a 1-0 victory over their archrival.
Senior goalie Grant Kelly earned clean sheets in both meetings prior to Tuesday’s matchup, so lack of offense against Hills against the brick wall dressed in black was an all too familiar theme for the Indians. The stifling back line led by seniors Lorenzo Carrero and Vlad Perozahk limited Valley to only a few offensive flurries that could be considered a threat in the first half and Kelly did well to pounce on any opportunites.
Second half proved to be a difference story, as Valley -- lead by its seniors -- began to take the play to its crosstown rival. After tactical changes to move more midfieldes into the upper third, cross after cross began to be hoisted in to the box, but to no avail. The Indians began to pour it on but at times were left vulnerable to the counter attack.
"We knew we would get their best shot, senior night at home and it's easity our biggest rival. Every time we have played them that I've been here it's been hard fought and tonight was no different," Kelly said. "We had to weather that early storm and I knew eventually we would get one."
After taking Valley’s best punch to start the second half, the Patriots would have the better of the chances in in the final 15 minutes. After a few failed long distance shots, Zysman's chance on net initiated the buildup that felt like a long time coming.
"We were getting chances and just not finishing which can get frustrating, getting one on net was the key, we were not making him make a save," said Cossari. "When [Matt's] chance made him dive like that I knew I was going to have a really good chance that I had to finish if it came to me."
It did, and Cossari never flinched.
Valley earned three corner kicks in the final two minutes and pressed hard for an equalizer but just couldn’t find a shooter in enough space. Even with both squads eliminated from county tournament play, the game had all the intensity you would expect when the Patriots and Indians square off.
As the game entered injury time the Indians would not say die. After a bicycle kick by Michael Luterzo was steered wide by Kelly for a corner, Luterzo got one final chance that was snuffed out by the Wayne Hills defense.
"I was worried for awhile their," Kelly admitted. "They did really well to pressure our backs and earn a lot of set pieces in this game. It felt for awhile like they were never going to leave our end and the last couple minutes were crazy. It's always fun when it's Hills versus Valley."
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