By Corey J. Corbin

Allied News Sports Editor

MERCER — FYI: Grove City boys soccer coach Brian Beil is a ‘Super hero from the future’ or so it appears.

The long-time GCHS coach told his players senior Jordan Nichols was going to get a game-winning goal Wednesday afternoon.

Nichols turned Beil into a full fledged prognosticator by scoring 1:17 into the first overtime session to hand the Eagles (8-3-1, 9-4-1) a 1-0 Region 1 win over rival Mercer at Mercer’s Lamor Road Field.

“With 10 minutes left in the game, I told him ‘You’re going to score a goal and you’re going to win this game for us,’ ” Beil said. “That’s what the whole prophetic thing was about. He’s that kind of kid. He has that kind of determination. He’s not going to allow himself to live with letting the game end that way.”

Nichols got the game-winner off an assist from Shaun Barr after missing a pair of quality opportunities in regulation.

With 24:55 left in regulation, Mercer was whistled for a handball inside the 18, but Nichols shot went right into the awaiting arms of Mercer keeper Joel Pyle. Almost 15 minutes later, Pyle got a hand on a Nichols shot off a nice Chris Murone pass.

“The PK, that was a good save and he didn’t hit it like he wanted to,” Beil said. “On the other, their keeper made a very good save. Nichols did a very good job of getting himself into position to have that opportunity.”

Barr nearly scored himself when his one-timer off a Elias White pass was stopped by Pyle. Murone’s shot off a Josiah Welker cross sailed wide left.

Mercer also had its chances.

In the first half, Trever Kelly surged through a pair of Grove City defenders only to have his shot sail wide left. Nearly one minute later, Dave Gathers had a shot nip the crossbar and go out of bounds. Late in the second half, Joe Jones’ header off a Kelly indirect kick was too high.

Outside of that, Mercer really didn’t make any headway against the Grove City defense of Andrew Fenstermacher, Devin Kearns, Jeff Hershberger, Scott Stein and keeper Justin Gildersleeve.

“Fenstermacher was solid as usual,” Beil said. “Scott Stein won a lot of balls for us. Hershberger has been a revelation for us at sweeper. He started out in the midfield and has showed a lot of composure. Devin Kearns made his second varsity start and did a very good against (Mercer’s Mike Sherman). Gildersleeve made an unbelievable save with about 49 seconds left on a corner kick and that’s par for the course with him.”

The Eagles were coming off a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Kennedy Catholic Monday.

“Youth is interesting,” Beil said. “For most of the game, we had seven sophomores on the field — guys who haven’t played in a match of this magnitude. They showed a lot of class. It was great for them to have the match that they had Monday … they played like a team with something to prove.”

They also had a lot to prove after a not-so-good 2-0 loss to the Mustangs in their previous meeting.

“This was the most complete game we’ve had this year,” Beil said. “The guys in the back did an outstanding job. The guys on the flanks and Cabe (Ritenour) and (Mark) Jaskowak were able to go a full 80 minutes and didn’t skip a beat.

“We really struggled in the midfield against these guys the last time, especially in the second half” “This time, we did a much better job. Up top, the forwards worked extremely hard off the ball and most of those opportunities came off the flanks. We wouldn’t have been able to get the balls out to the flanks if the forwards weren’t coming back and showing themselves. It was a great team effort all around.”

The Eagles are pretty much out of the region title hunt, but aren’t out of the playoff hunt just yet.

“There’s no way we can win the league, so we have to try for an at large berth like last year,” Beil said. “If we win out from what I’ve seen of the Erie teams, we’re very much in the playoff hunt. We need the results. Draws don’t do it for us. Losses don’t do it for us.”

In other Grove City boys soccer action, it was:

ä Kennedy Catholic 1, Grove City 0 — At Grove City’s Forker Field Monday, the visiting Golden Eagles scored with 3 seconds left in regulation as Colby Connely netted the winning shot, assisted by Joe Panariello.

Grove City outshot Kennedy 20-12. Kennedy keeper Dan Kopas had 7 saves, while Gildersleeve had 4 saves.

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