DUBOIS — On a frigid night in DuBois, Punxsy kicked off the opening round of the District IX Class AA boys' soccer playoffs with a 5-1 win over St. Marys during which Ty Zimmerman and Tyler Presloid each scored a pair of goals, and Tanner Evans added another.
A look at the first half scoresheet may make it look as if both teams came out lethargic in the cold temperatures, with Punxsy leading just 1-0 at halftime. But in reality, Punxsy had a number of great scoring opportunities in the first half. What kept the Chucks off the board was some dazzling play by St. Marys' keeper Brett Lanzel.
"Their keeper played incredibly well," Punxsy head coach Phil Shenkle said after the game. "We should have had about three more there, but he was putting saves up left and right. It was just a really nice effort he put out there."
Punxsy's opportunities started in the fifth minute of the game when sophomore Kevin Hughes led Zimmerman into the center with a nice pass, but Zimmerman's shot soared high.
One minute later, Hughes set up Presloid, but his shot had the same fate, being deflected high.
It appeared the Chucks had taken a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute, even earning some cheers from the crowd before the referee's whistle emerged from the cheers, as it turned out Evans' entry pass had been just out of bounds when he struck it.
Four minutes later, though, in the 12th minute, Ryan Presloid struck the ball from 30 yards out, and although his shot was blocked, Zimmerman found the rebound and slipped a shot past the keeper to give Punxsy the lead.
Punxsy's offense continued to swarm in the following minutes with scoring opportunities by Peace and Presloid being pushed out by the keeper.
Peace's shot was a straight-on shot in the 19th minute, and Presloid's was a header on an Evans' entry pass that appeared to be over Lanzel's hands before he rushed back to tip it just over the crossbar.
St. Marys' first noteable scoring chance came in the 26th minute when Clancy Wiesner pushed one just wide of the post after pressing up and finding an open lane.
Five minutes later, St. Marys gained another opportunity, but Michael Fox's shot sailed high and wide.
In the 38th minute, Ryan Presloid shot from 35 yards out and almost found the upper 90, but on the ensuing goal kick, St. Marys gained control and entered the Chucks' zone.
A shot on goal was easily deflected by the Chucks' defense, but the rebound ended up on a St. Marys player's foot with just the keeper — Dan Triponey — to beat.
The shot soared around Triponey and seemed bound for the back corner in the final minute of the half, but Punxsy defensemen Quinton Weber and Mike Pascuzzo rushed to Triponey's aid and deflected the shot wide.
Within seconds, the buzzer sounded and the Chucks led 1-0 at the half.
"This is what we've been preaching, and they're starting to put it together," Shenkle said. "We need to be moving and moving. In this game, if there's 11 guys moving, you're going to have good opportunities. The problem we've had is that some folks will watch while the other guys work."
The first six minutes of the second half, St. Marys had Punxsy on its heels, but Punxsy's defense held its own and kept the Dutchmen from earning any shots on goal.
In the seventh minute, Punxsy's offense came back to life when Evans led Tyler Presloid with a pretty pass. Presloid carried in between two defenders and rolled a shot underneath Lanzel as he dove to stop it.
"We knew St. Marys is a team that's been in the playoffs a lot," Shenkle said. "They're a good team with a rich history of playoff ball, and they know how to come out and work hard to compete. We said on the sidelines, 'We have to weather 10 minutes,' and we felt if we could do that, we had the conditioning that we could keep pushing and pull it out."
Three minutes later, Punxsy pushed the lead to three. Evans kicked a corner towards the goal box, and it looked as if St. Marys had cleared the zone. But Weber returned the ball deep in the zone, Peace received the ball on the end line and chipped it to Zimmerman, who headed it into the back corner of the net.
"Ty had a great game," Shenkle said. "The midfielders and strikers worked so seamlessly that it was hard to tell who was who, which is exactly what you want. The mids were making runs around, and the strikers were willing to be unselfish enough and give them the ball.
"Ty has a great motor. He was finding the ball, and it was good to see him have such a great game."
Less than one minute later, the Dutchmen ruined the Chucks' hopes of a shutout when Ethan Michelini shot a ball on from a long distance and it snuck past Triponey and his defenders to earn St. Marys' only goal of the evening.
In the 19th minute of the second half, Evans scored his goal, assisted by Tyler Presloid on a free kick. His kick arched perfectly over the defenders' wall and Evans headed it just below the crossbar to push the score to 4-1.
Tyler Presloid put the game out of reach two minutes later, and Zimmerman picked up the assist, leading Presloid with a pass that almost seemed out of his reach.
Presloid slid at the last second, though, and pushed his second goal of the game beneath a diving Lanzel.
On the cold night, Punxsy's conditioning and depth were definitely a factory.
"I got a lot of time out of a lot of guys," Shenkle said. "That was nice. I haven't been that deep in my bench in a long time, so that just shows they've been working hard and deserved it. I wouldn't have put them out there in a championship game if they weren't capable no matter what the score was. But this was just a very nice team effort."
Punxsy advances to the Nov. 2 District IX championship against Bradford at a location and time yet to be determined.