By Tom Robinson, NEPASportsNation.com
ARCHBALD – Monday’s 1-1 battle through two overtimes seemed like a game worthy of the two most highly regarded teams in District 2 boys soccer so far this season.
To North Pocono coach Graig Arcurie, it was even more.
“We knew coming into this season how strong of a team they were going to have,” Arcurie said. “Not that we mark any game down, but this has kind of been a rivalry dating back to when coach (Dan) Berg and I played against each other.
“It’s been a great rivalry for years between North Pocono and Valley View in soccer.”
The rivalry may have grown even bigger this season as the intensity of the first of the two Lackawanna League Division 1 meetings between the team showed.
“They’re super organized,” Berg said. “And, North Pocono’s very similar to us in that, at the end of the day, they’re gritty.”
North Pocono opened the season as the top-ranked Big School boys team in the Riverfront United Super Six Power Rankings of District 2 soccer teams.
By the time they met Monday, Valley View occupied that position and the teams were first and second in the Lackawanna League Division 1 race.
For the second time in three days, North Pocono ruined a perfect record for a No. 1 team. Saturday, they defeated then-Small School No. 1 Wyoming Area, 3-1.
After facing the Trojans, the Cougars are still unbeaten, but they had to settle for a tie for the first time and it was not easy with North Pocono applying frequent pressure in the scoreless second half and two overtimes.
“This was as good of a high school soccer game that I’ve been a part of as a coach or player,” Arcurie said. “It was a great game.”
North Pocono wound up taking all 12 of the game’s corner kicks while building a 16-6 shot advantage.
“We continued to stay on the front foot,” Arcurie said. “We wanted to press forward and seek that goal out, even when it gets to overtime.
“We knew that first overtime was going to be a sprint. Everybody wants to get out and try to score. We knew the second overtime would slow down a little bit and that’s when we were saying, ‘hey, let’s keep pressing it forward and see if we can catch them. We have guys that have that great speed with the ball.”
The goalkeepers, however, were not allowing anything after the teams matched goals in the first 25 minutes. They wound up staying in the 1-1 tie for more than 75 minutes, including the two 10-minute overtime periods.
Matt Cole made 15 saves for Valley View.
Jordan Carr made five saves for North Pocono and his booming kicks of up to 70 yards became a weapon to the point where the Trojans brought him up beyond midfield for one key direct kick late in the game.
“They’re two of the best in the league,” Arcurie said. “(Cole) made some phenomenal saves. You could see he really stepped it up in the second half and got more aggressive coming out on our set pieces and corners.”
The Trojans had tied the game on a corner kick with Corbin Lankford converting.
Valley View struck first just before the midway point in the first half when Timmy St. Ledger scored off an assist from Jacob Bekele.
“We haven’t been challenged like that,” Berg said. “Not to say that we haven’t been in games, but we haven’t played that aggressive and that hard the entire season.
“So, it was good for us to see what we can do. But, they’re good.”
Valley View held the division lead at 6-0-1, along with an 8-0-1 overall record.
North Pocono, now second in the Super Six, is 5-1-1 and 8-1-1 overall.