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FHS boys down NHS

The fourth-seeded Freedom Patriots made a decision to start the second half of their district semifinal boys soccer match against top-seeded Northampton with a nil-nil frame of mind despite their 2-nil lead over the Konkrete Kids.

“We really emphasized that,” said Freedom coach Tyler Nolan. “We knew they had nothing to lose and they were gonna come at us.”

Nolan and the Pates were right.

Northampton midfielder Jackson Vajda put the K-Kids on the scoreboard to open the second half, and the two teams traded goals for the next 34 minutes.

Northampton goalie Ethan Schrampf (4 saves) made a save on a shot by Freedom midfielder Michael Deluhery, but Dominik Roszkowski followed up and tapped it in for the Patriots.

Vajda scored a second goal for the Kids midway through the second half, but again, Freedom stayed two goals ahead after Deluhery landed a penalty kick, one that meant more than met the eye.

“After last year’s PK miss, I wasn’t missing that one. I was very certain,” said Deluhery, referring to an important match against Northampton last year. “It was kind of revenge. After last year, I changed my run-up. I run straight onto it and I hit with my laces bottom corner.”

Vajda then completed a hat trick with 10:47 remaining in the match to make the score 4-3.

“That’s what he does. He scores goals. As a matter of fact, he just beat my record,” Northampton coach Chris Bastidas smiled. “I told him tonight I wanted him to go out and do it, and he did it with three goals.”

Micah Lawser’s (12 saves) save for the Patriots off a corner prevented a 4-4 tie in the last five minutes of play.

“It was stressful all game long. Toward the end, off of Jackson’s header, the diving save off of that was a relief because they’re coming, and we’re up by just one,” Lawser said. “I think we did an incredible job of holding them. I have to give credit to our defense. Amazing job. Amazing defensive plays. [Northampton] got some chances, but all in all, we shut them down and allowed our offense to flow.”

Freedom forward Corey James put the match away on the last goal of the game at the 2:59 mark.

“It was something we’ve kind of been working on, [Corey] drifting into the space, getting a ball, turning, and just finding a window,” said Coach Nolan. “When he hits a ball, it’s pure. And what we were trying to do was find him space, and we did a very good job of shepherding him into nondangerous areas.”

James also scored the second goal of the match, a goal that shocked the K-Kids just 38 seconds after Connor Blake’s long shot that found the back of the net.

“We made it interesting,” Nolan said. “I would’ve loved if we kept it 2-0. That would’ve been nice. Northampton battled back, but I was happy the boys responded.”