FOX TWP. – Two days after finally breaking back into the win column with a 3-2 victory over Curwensville on the road, the Elk County Catholic Crusader soccer team was back in action at home against a solid Punxsutawney squad on Saturday afternoon in a very physical contest. Things did not go as well for the Crusaders on Saturday though, as they were unable to get another winning streak going, gave up the most goals they have allowed all season in the 6-1 loss, and were outshot by the Chucks 23-8.
It was really a tale of two halves for the Crusaders. The ECC squad looked determined to put up a good fight early in the game, taking three of their four first-half shots within the opening 10 minutes of the contest. Punxsy slowly got their momentum going, though, and would go on to take 13 shots in the opening 40 minutes of play. ECC keeper Cory Huff stayed on his toes, as did the Crusader defense, and the only shot that was able to get through came with 7:42 left in the half as the Chucks' Ty Zimmerman headed the ball into the net off of a corner kick by Tanner Evans. The goal gave Punxsy a 1-0 advantage headed into the half.
Elk Catholic did not have the same spark in the second half as they did at the start of the first. They failed to come out as aggressively, and the Chucks easily outplayed them for control of the ball, getting off four shots in the opening 10 minutes, including a goal by Evans with 30:01 left to play to put the Crusaders at a 2-0 disadvantage.
As good as ECC's defense was in the first half, it did not hold up in the second as the Chucks went on a four-goal run over a span of about 14 minutes. The scoring spree included almost back-to-back goals around 12 minutes into the half. With 28:51 left to play, Zimmerman was again able to score following a corner kick by Evans. Evans was then able to find the back of the net with another shot of his own with 28:11 remaining, giving Punxsy a 4-0 lead.
ECC's only score of the game came with 22:56 left to play after the Crusaders were awarded a penalty kick following a handball in the box. Ian Herzing was able to send the ball past Punxsy keeper Tristan Acre, putting the Crusaders on the board. Herzing's penalty kick also marked the first of the Crusaders' four shots in the second half.
The Chucks padded their lead with two more goals, one by Kevin Hughes with 19:20 remaining, and another by Brycen Lunger with 14:3 left to play, en route to their 6-1 win.
ECC, now 4-6-1, will have another tough match on Tuesday evening as they host cross-town rival St. Marys Area at 7 p.m. at Angela Huey Memorial Field. The Crusaders and the Dutchmen have already met twice this season, with ECC taking a 2-0 win in the opening round of the Elk County Tournament and St. Marys Area winning 1-0 in a game played at the SMAHS soccer field in mid-September.