A 31/2 hour bus ride didn’t slow Oley Valley.
The District 3 runner-up scored four times in the first half to end Philipsburg-Osceola’s Cinderella postseason run with a 4-0 triumph in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA boys’ soccer playoffs at Hollidaysburg High School on Tuesday night.
Marcus Frangakis scored a goal and assisted on two others for the Lynx (17-4-2), who will face West Allegheny, a 6-0 winner over Warren, on Saturday. The Mounties, who knocked off the top three seeds in the District 6 Tournament finish their season 10-9-1.
Oley Valley took control from the opening boot, making rush after rush on the P-O net. The Lynx fired 11 shots, but the Mounties and keeper Mitchell Winters kept the Lynx off the scoreboard until midway through the half.
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That’s when Frangakis took over.
First, he dribbled past two P-O defenders before getting hauled down in the box. On the penalty kick, Frangakis beat Winters to the upper right corner of the net to make it 1-0 with 20:38 left in the half.
“I told the guys that we had to set a tone in the first 10 or 20 minutes,” Oley Valley coach Shawn Meals said. “We did. We responded.”
The margin would grow in just 37 seconds. Frangakis pushed the ball to a wide open Kerkeslager, who fired the ball into the left corner of the net to make it 2-0.
“I knew their No. 10 (Frangakis) was a pretty good dribbler and he was the kind of guy who created things,” Mounties coach Shawn Inlow said. “That (penalty kick) kind of opened up things for them. Up until then, I thought we were handling their pressure OK. When he got on dribble in the middle, that was trouble.
“They certainly had the better of us, especially after the (penalty kick). Our guys were a little disorganized and then the dam broke.”
The Lynx would add two more before the half closed. Ben Meier converted on a scramble in front of the net after Kerkeslager’s long throw-in with 9:24 left in the half.
And Frangakis was back in the middle of things again. His rifled shot clanged off the right post directly to Clark Williamson who poked the ball into the empty net with exactly eight minutes left in the half.
Meals said several college teams have shown interest in Frangakis, who has yet to pick a school. Frangakis now has 15 goals and five assists this season.
“Since his freshman year, he’s been one of the most tenacious players on the field,” Meals said of Frangakis. “He’s got a great skill set. He’s got great vision. Honestly, when he gets knocked down, he’s not milking the call. He gets right back up and he’s right back in the thick of things.”
Oley Valley also frustrated the Mounties’ offense. P-O didn’t get a shot until Aaron Boumerhi’s long blast at the 6:09 mark. For the half, the Lynx outshot the Mounties 20-2.
P-O’s Austin Krise, who has given teams trouble all season, was unable to get a shot as he was blanketed by two players, including stopper Gabe Duran.
“We were trying to play direct to him, but their back line was more capable than we are used to and could handle that pressure,” Inlow said. “They handled his pressure pretty well.”
“I’ve been telling them all season that you’ve got to make the most of the opportunities that you create,” Meals said. “At this stage, you’re only going to get so many opportunities here and there. We finished off the chances that we needed to early. We played a solid effort defensively, too. ... I think we shut down some of their major threats really well.”
Inlow said it took him until halftime to figure out that dropping a midfield back on defense would limit Oley Valley’s opportunities. It cut the Lynx’s shot attempts in half in the second half.
P-O got some better looks, too.
Hunter Honan got off two great shots late in the game and only outstanding saves by Ryan Krall kept P-O off the scoreboard.
“We did have some decent runs forward in the second half,” Inlow said. “I don’t want to say more than they did, but some good clean ones.”
The Mounties got a lift from Nick Boumerhi, who saw his first playing time all season. Boumerhi replaced Winters, who was injured in a first-half collision, and made seven saves in the second half.
“We held them out in the second half,” Inlow said. “I told the guys the test tonight was to prepare for next year. The horse was already out of the barn. They had to comport themselves well. They had to be a solid team. They had to be for each other and work as hard as they could. They had to be as dignified as they could because 4-0 is ugly at halftime. And, they did that.”
Inlow, having lost 2-0 to state finalist Lancaster Mennonite last season, feels like his team learned much from playing against another District 3 team in the PIAAs. He’s optimistic, especially with most of his starters returning, at a third straight PIAA run..
“Next year, you’ll see this team here again because we get the whole team back,” he said. “We hope to get another District 3 opponent here and we’ll see if we can’t do better and learn something here. ... I think we’re going to be loaded for bear.”