FOX TWP. – It was a dark and stormy night at Angela Huey Memorial Field in Fox Township on Tuesday for the Elk County Catholic High School boys' soccer team's match against Curwensville. The Crusaders were able to make the best of things, though, as they held on to a 2-1 advantage until the game was called almost midway through the second half due to lightning.
Lightning started to light up the sky south of the soccer field toward the end of the first half, and the referees called for a half-hour lightning delay at halftime. Even though the lightning never fully ceased and instead became increasingly prevalent throughout the second half, frequently lighting up the sky behind Curwensville's goal, the referees waited almost 20 minutes before calling the game with 22:14 left on the clock.
According to the 2012 Soccer Preseason Bulletin found on the PIAA website, play is to be suspended "when thunder is heard, or a cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is seen." At the time play was resumed, the sound of thunder was not evident, and the lightning, while clearly visible, appeared to be merely cloud-to-cloud from a storm passing to the south of the area. The lack of thunder and cloud-to-cloud lightning were the same conditions present when the game was finally called almost 20 minutes later, though.
While the lightning merely put on a show in the sky, the heavy rain that periodically impacted the field throughout the contest not only drenched both teams, but also made it hard for players to stay on their feet.
"The weather was definitely a contributing factor to what went on," said ECC head coach Adam Bailey.
Corey Koss scored the first goal of the season for the Crusaders as he put a shot into the back of the net less than 10 minutes into the game. Curwensville answered right back, though, putting a shot past freshman ECC keeper Patrick Hoffman with 29:37 left in the half to tie the score at 1-all.
Ian Herzing put ECC back in front with 15:46 on the clock as he put a shot past Curwensville's keeper. Curwensville had an opportunity to knot things back up as they were awarded a penalty kick due to a handball in the box. The shot hit off the crossbar, though, and then Curwensville was called offsides, eliminating the threat.
Despite their best efforts, neither team was able to score during the remainder of the contest, though Curwensville came out strong once play finally resumed in the second half, outshooting ECC 3-2 as they tried to even up the score.
"Curwensville will be happy, I'm sure, to play us again [later this season], and we'll be happy to give them the opportunity down in Curwensville," Bailey said.
The two squads are scheduled to meet again on Thursday, Sept. 27.
While the weather helped the Crusaders come away with the 2-1 win, it also seemed to impact attendance at the game, as very few fans braved the rain.
"You've got to take the good with the bad. I'm sure they (the fans) will be back here Friday for the contest against [St. Marys Area] for the opening round of the Elk County Tournament," Bailey said.
Elk Catholic will host St. Marys at 4 p.m. in that contest, with Ridgway and Redbank Valley facing off at the same time in Ridgway. The winners will play for the tournament title on Saturday at 12 p.m. and the consolation game will take place at 10 a.m.