Baldwin beats McKeesport in boys soccer
Will Phillips may always remember the career-best, 19-save performance that the junior goal keeper unfurled for McKeesport Area in its second Section 4-AAA match of the season against Baldwin.
It was the one that got away, however, that led to the Tigers' rain-drenched 2-1 loss to the visiting Highlanders Tuesday at Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium.
After nearly single-handedly keeping McKeesport (3-11, 1-7) in the game through 61 minutes, Phillips made the initial save on a shot by Baldwin (7-4-1, 5-1) defender Eric Michalski.
When the rebound then squirted just beyond the grasp of the Tigers goal keeper, Michalski was there to deposit his second goal of the game into an empty net to hand the Highlanders a 2-1 lead with 19:05 left in the second half.
"It was a hard shot and it skipped," Phillips said. "The ground was wet and I just bobbled it. It got away from me, but it's unlucky. You can't do anything about those."
And there was no matter of luck involved in Phillips' performance to that point of the game.
In the first half, Phillips made 11 saves to send the teams into halftime deadlocked at a 1-1 score.
"That's what we've been doing most of the year," second-year McKeesport coach Jim Poston said. "Our goal keeper's been keeping us in most of the games."
Such strong play from the Tigers goal keeper has been a major rallying point for his team throughout the 2010 campaign.
"Will's really stepping up as a first-year keeper for varsity," McKeesport senior forward Zach DiBeradin said. "He's making a lot of good saves this year. I commend him on most of his performances and keeping his head in there."
Baldwin took a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute of the first half when Michalski scored his first goal of the game.
But DiBeradin stole the momentum back for McKeesport exactly 30 seconds later when he took a pass from midfielder Brandon Poston and scored against Highlanders goal keeper Phillip Wright to tie the game at 1-1.
"They got an unlucky touch," DiBeradin said. "(Poston) played me a nice ball. I even lost the ball, but I stuck with it and took a shot, took advantage of the wet turf and the keeper couldn't hold onto it. It slid right underneath of him."
From that point on, the Tigers took charge of the game's momentum.
When Chris Beech then was fouled in the box in the fifth minute of the second half and was awarded a penalty kick, McKeesport had a golden opportunity to take an important lead.
Instead, Beech was unable to beat Wright and the momentum switched to Baldwin.
"It's hard to recover from the PK, but you've got to try your best to get back from it," DiBeradin said.
The Tigers were unable to do so, as Michalski scored his game-winner seven minutes later.
"It's just unlucky right there," DiBeradin said. "The ball was wet, you can't really hold onto it. You can't really blame it on the defense, it's just kind of unlucky."
McKeesport returns to action Saturday in a non-section game at Plum and will face Albert Gallatin and Mt. Lebanon in its final two section contests of the season.
"This is the best we've played all season," Phillips said of his team's losing effort Tuesday. "We competed with this team away at their stadium, but we played 10-times better against them at home."
And that effort should mean a lot for the future of the Tigers program.
"I think this will really be a big boost-builder and move them forward," Poston said.