JOHNSONBURG – Johnsonburg soccer won 3-2 over Clearfield Saturday afternoon at Johnsonburg Area High School.
It was the Rams' first win of the season and a one-goal win for Johnsonburg after losing four straight one-goal decisions.
"What we've been telling the kids all along is they have to play a full 80 minutes and I think they finally understood that," Johnsonburg assistant coach Jeff Costanzo said. "They do have to go right to the end to win. It's so hard to win, especially with all the talent that there is in District 9. I'm really proud that they got their first one. Hopefully, this can start a streak."
Costanzo said the win should give Johnsonburg some confidence with around half the season still to play.
"It really gives the kids confidence," Costanzo said. "We've lost a lot of games by one. They know they can do it if they just gut it out and put their nose down and fight right to the end."
Clearfield scored in the 18th minute of the first half to make the score 1-0. Costanzo said the Rams were told to play solid defense and he thought they might get a fortuitous bounce in their favor.
"They got a pretty easy goal in the first half and we told them at halftime to just play their usual D and maybe we'll get a cheap one or two and it fell in our favor," Costanzo said.
Just over five minutes into the second half, that break happened for the Rams. Johnsonburg had a corner kick from the far side and the ball looked to be caught by the Clearfield keeper, however it slipped out of his hands and bounced in the net to tie the game at 1-all. Luke Shreffler was the closest to the play and may have gotten a touch on it in the penalty area with his body.
Clearfield scored on a penalty kick with 28:24 left but Kyle Sheldon answered with a penalty kick of his own at the 22:53 mark of the second half to tie the game at 2-all. Zebb Zilcosky made a run down the right side and was held by a Clearfield defender in the penalty area to force the spot kick.
Another Clearfield goalkeeper error allowed the Rams to score the go-ahead goal. A long ball bounced over his head and Sheldon was able to bump the ball into the net with his body just 28 seconds after scoring the penalty kick.
"They finally let their play speak for themselves," Johnsonburg assistant coach Adam Thorwart said. "That's the greatest thing we can say as coaches."
Costanzo said it will be up to the players to carry out their roles moving forward.
"They know their roles, it's just a matter of carrying it out," Costanzo said. "This will give them a lot of confidence."
Johnsonburg is at St. Marys for a 4 p.m. match on Tuesday.