JOHNSTOWN - Philipsburg-Osceola High School boys soccer coach Shawn Inlow didn't like the fact that his team's District 5-6 Class AA semifinal playoff game with Somerset wound up being played on artificial turf at Richland High School's Herlinger Field Monday night.
Inlow was also irked at the fact that his Mounties, despite being the second-seeded team in the district, had a much longer travel distance for the game than did third-seeded Somerset.
But Inlow was also quick to acknowledge that Somerset was unquestionably the better team Monday.
The Golden Eagles controlled pace and field position from start to finish and won, 3-1, ending the Mounties' season.
"We're not great on turf, we like to get [opponents] on grass,'' said Inlow, whose P-O squad wrapped up a 14-5-1 season on the snow-flanked field. "But [Somerset] humbled us tonight. If you want to get anywhere in the state tournament, you have to play well on turf. Our guys didn't play with any composure tonight. They just played much better than we did.''
Almost the entire game was played either in the middle of the field, or in Philipsburg-Osceola's end of it. That didn't bode well for P-O after Somerset opened up a 2-0 lead at halftime.
"We didn't have an answer after we got down, 2-0,'' Inlow said.
Somerset (15-3-2), which will square off against Bedford in Thursday night's District 5-6-AA championship game at Hollidaysburg, had its way with P-O throughout Monday's contest.
The Eagles opened the scoring 6:05 into the game when sophomore midfielder/striker Seth Law floated a shot past P-O junior goalkeeper Jay Prentice for the first goal of the game.
Less than seven minutes later, Somerset went ahead, 2-0 when senior midfielder Josh Lloyd found himself all alone in front of Prentice after taking a kick from the left sideline from senior defender Nate Taylor. Lloyd booted a short shot into the P-O cage to create the two-goal Somerset lead.
On a night when Philipsburg-Osceola managed just two shots on Somerset senior keeper Kody McKenzie in the entire game - and none in the first half - the two-goal disadvantage seemed like Mount Rushmore for P-O to surmount.
"I would have liked to have seen more of our shots go in the net, but we played well,'' Somerset coach Mark Wassilchalk said. "We dominated the tempo from the first whistle, and we did a good job of possessing the ball tonight. We gave up very little defensively.''
Somerset stretched its lead to 3-0 with 10:49 left in the game when senior midfielder Levi Crawford took a pass in the middle of the field from senior striker/midfielder Jeremy Scheffel and beat Prentice from 18 yards away.
P-O averted a shutout on senior striker Greg Kojadinovich's goal with 5:09 remaining. Kojadinovich took senior midfielder Alex Boumehri's feed through the middle of the field, raced in, and beat McKenzie with a kick along the ground into the lower left corner of the cage.
But it was too little and too late for P-O.
"I'm glad we got the last one,'' Inlow said. "Boumehri hit KoJo [Kojadinovich] with a gorgeous through ball, and KoJo did a great job of getting the goal. He's one of our senior veterans who has been with this program right along.''
P-O graduates just four players, including Kojadinovich, as next season also looks bright for the Mounties.
"We wanted to go deep into the District 6 playoffs this year, and we did that,'' Inlow said. "We return 11 of 15 players next year. We saw tonight how much more we have to do in order to go even further in the playoffs next season.''
SCORE BY HALVES
Somerset 2 1 - 3
Philipsburg-Osceola 0 1 - 1
First Half: 1, S-Law (unassisted), 6:05; 2, S-Lloyd (Taylor), 13:01.
Second Half: 3, S-Crawford (Scheffel), 29:11; 4, PO-Kojadinovich (Boumerhi), 34:51.
Records: Somerset (15-3-2); Philipsburg-Osceola (14-5-1).
Shots on goal: Somerset 6, Philipsburg-Osceola 2.