KERSEY – It only takes a few seconds for the momentum to shift in a soccer match, and the Elk County Catholic Crusader squad made this clear on Tuesday evening as they scored back-to-back goals within a span of 22 seconds to rally past the Johnsonburg Rams and earn a 2-1 victory.
"Tonight's contest was great for the fans," said ECC assistant coach T.J. Weaver. "Johnsonburg showed up ready to play from the opening whistle. The Johnsonburg team is much improved since the first time we played them. Lance (Rezmerski) is doing a great job with the numbers. We, as a team, had many scoring opportunities."
"To come away with a 2-1 loss is pretty heartbreaking when we played so well," Johnsonburg coach Lanze Rezmerski said.
Rezmerski credited Kyle Sheldon with helping keep the score close. Both of Elk Catholic's goals came while Sheldon was on the bench after drawing a yellow card for dissent with 37:25 remaining in the second half.
"What I've been saying all year, if I have Kyle Sheldon on defense our defense is really strong. If I bring him up on offense, our offense is strong. But that doesn't take anything away from the rest of the players," Rezmerski said. "The rest of the players played an excellent game. It's just Kyle has a super big leg and it (the ball) is gone, the ball is on the other end of the field. We brought him up with 18 minutes left and the defense stepped up and took charge. Mason Walters did a good job. Johnny Ferragine back there, since we moved him back on the defense, has been phenomenal."
"Once again, Elk County Catholic is truly the best team in the league, and for us to come away with a 2-1 loss, it's nice," Rezmerski added. "Our defense really stepped up. For us, I don't want to say it's like a win, but it will be a good momentum swing for us for the rest of this half coming up."
The first half was a defensive struggle for both teams; however, Johnsonburg was able to take advantage of a penalty kick by Kyle Sheldon just past the halfway point and went up 1-0 with 18:59 remaining in the half. Johnsonburg would carry that lead into halftime.
Elk Catholic outshot Johnsonburg 11-2 during the first half. The Crusaders also had three corner kicks, while the Rams had one.
ECC came alive in the second half with Corey Koss tying the game at 1-all with 32:46 remaining. Tweny-two seconds later, the Crusaders took over the lead as Jake Herbstritt made a nice kick toward the goal and Peter Pontzer headed the ball past Johnsonburg goalie Mason Walters.
The Rams tried to rally, but ECC keeper Mitchell Gahr made a few nice saves to preserve the Crusaders' 2-1 victory.
The Crusaders outshot Johnsonburg 13-4 in the second half and had two corner kicks, while the Rams had one.
With the loss, Johnsonburg is now 0-7 and will play host to the Smethport Hubbers at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The victory gives Elk Catholic a 7-0 record. They will host the Brockway Rovers on Thursday.
"We are looking forward to playing Brockway on Thursday night at home, with the junior varsity match starting at 6 p.m. and varsity to follow," Weaver said.