Postseason soccer so often comes down to a fortunate bounce, particularly when the opponents are as familiar with one another as Conemaugh Township and Rockwood.
The Indians and Rockets are WestPAC rivals who played two games this season before Saturday night's District 5-A quarterfinal match at Conemaugh Township.
Given the familiarity and what was at stake, the match was tightly played and physical, even chippy at times and, in typical fashion, low-scoring.
Not that any of it matters to top-seeded Conemaugh Township, which advanced to the semifinals with a hard-fought, 1-0 victory.
“We knew coming in this would be a physical game. We just played them for the WestPAC title,” Conemaugh Township coach Christopher Miller said. “They are by no means a No. 8 seed.”
Rockwood (11-8-1) certainly didn’t play like the lowest-seeded team in the tournament, but the Rockets were unable to keep Conemaugh Township’s Cody Ofsanko off the score sheet in the 60th minute.
Naturally, the game-winning goal was the result of being in the right place at the proper time.
Freshman Clayton Blough set up the goal for Conemaugh Township (14-2-3), which plays Fannett-Metal in the semifinals, when he maintained possession for the Indians near the Rockets’ penalty box. The ball bounced to Ofsanko, whose shot bounced off Rockwood goalie John Waltermire, who made several key saves, and into the net.
“We played them (to a scoreless draw) about three weeks ago,” Rockwood coach Mike Jenner said. “We were trying to get organized in the back. We were very organized back there in the first half, but we got a little disorganized later in the game.”
Conemaugh Township’s defense had no such problem as they shut down what few opportunities Rockwood generated against the possession-happy Indians. James Bassette, Nick Felton and even Blough helped make things easier on goalkeeper Jeff Callihan.
“They’ve been fantastic all season,” Miller said of his defense. “We’ve only given up one or two goals in most matches and, at most, I think they’ve allowed 15 shots, most times it’s under 10. It’s a credit to (Callihan) and how he keeps them organized.”