The conditions were ideal for an upset.
Volatile wind gusts and cold temperatures threatened to level the playing field against a #5 Portledge team the Bears had twice beaten this season by scores of 4-0 and 3-0. But the Bears showed their championship mettle by rising above the blustery weather and taking another step forward in the defense of their crown.
The first half was tightly fought as both teams tried in vain to find a rhythm amid the winds that lashed Fitch Field, bending the corner flags. The game appeared to be headed for a 0-0 score at the half, when Owen Sobel, as he has so many times before, came through for the Brook by beating his defender and tucking it past the keeper from a shallow angle.
The Bears carried their narrow lead into the second half, but saw it extinguished just six minutes in on a breakaway goal. It was the first goal the Blue and White yielded to Portledge in five matches since joining the PSAA a year ago. The 1-1 tie felt especially tenuous in to the unpredictable elements, which made Ian Blunt’s answer 90 seconds later so big. The senior took a pass to space, carried it into the box, and sent a shot over the keeper and in to vault the Brook back into the lead. Blunt found the net again, and finally gave the Bears some breathing room, when he blasted home a gorgeous volley at the 19:34 mark for a 3-1 lead. With 10:37 left Ryahn Khan (3 saves) wiped away the Panthers’ last meaningful opportunity with a stout save and Lee Maeba capped the scoring with 1:14 remaining as the Bears pulled out the 4-1 win.
The Bears return to action on Wednesday as they host a PSAA semifinal match against the winner of #2 Avenues and #3 Knox.