PHILIPSBURG - Any chance of an upset by seventh-seeded Cambria Heights over second-seeded Philipsburg-Osceola in the District 6 Class AA boys soccer quarterfinals ended when Mountie junior Nick Boumerhi found himself open twice in front of the goal in the first half.
Boumerhi's two first-half goals gave the Mounties a 2-0 lead at halftime, which was way more than star goalie Jay Prentice needed. Prentice, a senior, remained a wall in goal, recording his 12th shutout of the season and 23rd of his career in a 3-0 win over the Higlanders Wednesday night at Memorial Field.
Unofficially, Prentice, who was just coming off a concussion, made seven saves, while Heights goalie Tristin Irwin made 13.
"When Nick scores two, that's the end of it," said P-O coach Shawn Inlow, whose team is 11-4-4. "Nobody has scored more than two on us all year. The only place where we've had two scored on us was at Curtis Park [P-O's home field]. Jay is just a magical young man."
"It felt great to score twice and to win on our home field," Boumerhi said. "I knew we had a good chance at winning by a couple goals because Jay is just an animal back there, and our defense is stellar."
The first goal was scored on a corner kick, with an assist from Taylor Golemboski at the 29:03 mark. Boumerhi's second goal came with 4:03 left in the half on an assist from Lucas Kristofits.
"Taylor Golemboski, who is like 6-3, gets the header on, and the goalie saves it. It was a great save by the goalie, and it falls to Nick, and he just drilled it," Inlow said of the first goal.
For the Highlanders (7-9-3), their best shot at scoring came with about 16:10 left in the second half, when Nathan Lieb's shot on goal hit off the crossbar.
"In the second half, we asked them as a coaching staff to rise to the challenge," Heights coach Ken Kerchenske said. "At 2-0, you're not out of the game. You're just one shot away from making it a one-goal game.
"We knew [Prentice] was going to be tough. We saw him in the preseason. [The 12 shutouts] is just amazing. He's extra aggressive, and at times, he takes chances, but it works for him."
Just over a minute later, P-O's Jarrett Rockey scored at the 14:58 mark on assist from Golemboski.
"Heights came out charged up," Inlow said. "They got a few shots early in the second half, and they were going as hard as they could."
The Mounties will now get ready for third-seeded Tyrone, a 2-0 winner over Bishop Carroll, on Tuesday at home in the semifinals. P-O beat Tyrone, 2-1, at home and tied, 0-0, at Tyrone.
"We've played Tyrone for several years, and they were never really too big of an opponent until this year," Boumerhi said. "It's going to be a good game, but I think we can do what we can do. I think we're playing great."
SCORE BY HALVES
Cambria Heights0 0 - 0
Philipsburg-Osceola2 1 - 3
First half: PO-N. Boumerhi (Golemboski), 29:03; N. Boumerhi (Kristofits), 4:03
Second half: PO-Rockey (Golemboski), 14:58
Records: Cambria Heights (7-9-3); Philipsburg-Osceola (11-4-4).