Rangers grab Round 1, and rematch now an option

By JOSEPH FANELLI
Herald Staff Writer

BRETZVILLE — One gesture said it all. A quick handshake and a few words between two coaches from rival programs with a mutual respect and desire to win.

Heritage Hills coach Joe Asbury didn’t have to go out of his way to approach Brent Sicard 15 minutes after Asbury’s team lost a hard-fought 2-1 Pocket Athletic Conference matchup against Forest Park on Tuesday, but that’s the kind of coach he is and that’s the kind of game it was.

Aders

“Heritage Hills is a big rivalry, especially when they come here,” Sicard said. “You don’t want to let them come away with anything and Coach (Asbury) and I have gone against each other separate times and there is a mutual respect there. We know the teams are going to put it out there. It’s a physical game. We’re not out there just playing a game, they’re leaving it all on the field and that’s exactly how we both coach and how we want the game to be played. It makes for some exciting games and it’s good to come out on the winning end of it.”

It took two opportunistic scores by Forest Park, one in each half, and some tight-lipped defense by an experienced backline, but the Rangers (1-1-1, 1-0) grabbed their first win of the season and gave Heritage Hills (3-1, 0-1) its first loss.

The first goal came after 10 minutes of play when Alex Russell stole the ball in Patriot territory, dribbled into the 18-yard box and then flipped a short cross to a trailing Spenser Sermersheim, who buried a header past goalie Nick Waninger. The score marked the Rangers’ first in-play goal this season. In their previous two games, both scores came off penalty kicks. The score provided some confidence for a team looking to replace last season’s offensive standout, Adam Braunecker, who netted 18 goals in 2012.

“To get one there in the run-of-play — Spenser’s nice header — it was a great goal,” Sicard said. “I could tell we really fed off of that. That’s big for us, getting that first goal in the run-of-play.

Englert

“I’m going to quit mentioning Braunecker one of these days, but he had 18 goals for us last year and we got to have somebody step up and put the ball in the back of the net and it’s going to be a collective effort, and they definitely put that collective effort on the field tonight.”

The Rangers remained in control for most of the first half with quality possessions and smart, timely passes. But the Patriot offense grew confident and became more aggressive with their chances downfield. It finally paid off when Donovan Aders fielded the ball with his back to the goal just outside the Ranger 6-yard box, made a quick move to his left and sent a low drive through several defenders and just off the fingertips of goalie Philip Bolvinkel. Tie game.

As a fast player, capable of scoring far and near the goal, Aders is the focus of a Patriot attack that demands a lot of its skilled midfielder.

“We’re asking him to do a lot,” Asbury said. “We’re asking him to run up and down the field. We’re asking him to score goals and to defend out on the wind. We’re hoping to get him in one-on-one positions and one-on-one situations ... and chances to serve balls in from the other side. So we’ve got a lot that we expect out of Donovan.”

Defensive duties on Aders fell to Forest Park’s Ben Englert in an outside matchup that resembled a track meet at times. Both players are tall and agile with breakaway speed. The result was a near draw for the two midfielders.

“We were both evenly matched,” Englert said. “One minute he was quicker than me, the next I was quicker than him. Just back and forth.”

The second half started with much of the same, both teams feeling out possessions as play became more physical. At the 32-minute mark, though, Dakota Begle hammered in a one-touch ball through a crowd of defenders off a Sermersheim assist, and once again Forest Park had the lead.

After the score, the Rangers dropped an extra defender into their backline to counteract a determined Patriot attack. The defense, anchored by four-year center back Cody Tempel, held tough and deterred any potential game-tying goals.

After the game, Asbury remained confident in his offense and credited a staunch Forest Park defense over any inefficiencies on his end.

“Somebody’s mom yelled at me, ”˜More offense Coach’; I don’t what the hell that means,” Asbury said, laughing. “(Forest Park is) not going to give you anything. Once they scored, they were dead-set on not giving away any goals and they did a nice job. ... They just didn’t make a mistake there in the last 20.”

With Forest Park moving into the same sectional as Heritage Hills this season, the conference rivals have a strong possibility of meeting again early this postseason. The result, as usual, should be a heated and competitive affair, and neither coach seems to have any problem with a potential rematch.

“I welcome that because, as you know, this is a fabulous rivalry,” Asbury said. “They’ve had so much fun over the years and gotten up and yelled and screamed and cried and everything in between ... It’s really something special between these two schools and I can’t speak for them, but I feel they feel the same way. So for us to get back in the sectional is great a thing. It’s a great thing for everybody in the community.”

Contact Joseph Fanelli at jfanelli@dcherald.com




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