By Jeremy Balan
Considering how tight the Bay Counties League West boys soccer playoff race has been, it’s no surprise Wednesday’s critical match between Urban School and Drew came down to one play.
The Blues replaced the Dragons in the fourth and final playoff spot with a 1-0 win at the Crocker Amazon Soccer Fields on a lone goal from senior Brett Klapper.
In the eighth minute, Urban junior Harry Krinsky sent a corner kick from the right wing toward the far post. Fellow junior Gabriel Kaufman headed the ball toward the face of the net, where Klapper and Drew goalkeeper Justeen Li collided as they both reached the ball, deflecting the ball into the left side of the net.
“We’ll take it,” said Urban head coach Anthony Reyes. “We work on those set pieces and [getting the ball to the front of the net] is always what we want to do.”
Urban (8-5-1, 3-5-1) capitalized on its only shot of the first half, and had to rally defensively after, when forward Seth Rosner received a red card in the 35th minute, forcing the Blues to play a man down for the rest of the game.
“It was tough being a man down against a good team and we’re not used to playing a man down,” Reyes said. “I’m confident in my team and our depth. It was a really unfortunate decision that my guy made. He’ll learn from it and we’ll all learn from it.”
The Dragons (6-7-2, 2-5-2) sent three shots on target in the second half, but the best scoring chances of the day came on near misses from junior Marcus Mason.
The first came in the 60th minute, when Mason hit the post from 20 yards out, then in the 79th minute, he chipped a ball just over the crossbar from 25 yards out.
The Dragons applied constant pressure throughout the second half, but could not get a ball past Urban goalkeeper Zach Thompson.
“We thought we could capitalize on the red card in the second half,” said Drew head coach Daniel Philpot. “They effectively had one shot opportunity and they put it in, and we didn’t put in any of our opportunities. It was a bit of a missed opportunity, but give them credit, because they closed down and packed it in [on defense].”
The win, combined with a 1-1 tie between Lick-Wilmerding and Stuart Hall on Wednesday, gives Urban sole possession of fourth place with 10 points, but the Blues will take on Lick in the final game of the season without one of their top scorers in Rosner, who will have to sit out a game due to the red card.
A win over the Tigers would move Urban into third place, but a loss would put them in danger of losing the final playoff spot to Drew or Stuart Hall.
But Stuart Hall would need to upset defending champ Marin Academy and Drew would have to beat second-place University.
The Dragons already upset University earlier in the season and will have to do so again to keep playoff hopes alive.
“Now it comes down to University,” Philpot said. “We pulled it off last time and we still have a shot.”