EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - The AC Crusaders and Pocono Snow both had their share of scoring opportunities in their National Premier Soccer League game Sunday.

Only one team capitalized - the visitors.

The Crusaders lost 1-0 to Pocono Snow in an NPSL Northeast Conference Keystone Division game at Egg Harbor Township High School. The Crusaders play at Jersey City on Wednesday and host Morris County at Washington Township High School on Sunday to close the season.

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"Poconos played well. We didn't do enough to win the game today," Crusaders coach Matt Driver said. "We can't complain about anything other than lack of effort on our side.

The game's lone goal came 10 minutes into the second half. Rashane Ellison crossed the ball from the left side of the net to Jason Rudder, whose head-on shot snuck past goalie Paul Erbacher.

A formation change helped the Snow break through the Crusaders' defense. After a scoreless first half, the Snow switched from playing with three up top to two, which allowed them to better pressure the Crusaders' back line.

"Really early on in the half, we broke the deadlock. It was very important for us psychologically and was vindication for the tactical change," Pocono coach Winga Siwale said.

The Crusaders and Snow traded control of the ball for periods of time through the scoreless first half. Each had serious scoring chances.

AC's Adam Sternberger, an Ocean City High School graduate, booted a hard shot that went just above the crossbar about 25 minutes into the game. He followed with another hard shot eight minutes later that was stopped by goalie Danny O'Rourke.

The Crusaders continued their attack in the second half. They outshot the Snow 18-10 in the game. However, AC was never able to find the back of the net.

"We never took our chances. We created enough chances, but if you're not putting them away, you're not going to win the game," Driver said.

Pocono had several missed opportunities in the first half. Two of those were at the hands of Erbacher, who made five saves and played a phenomenal game for the Crusaders.

Late in the first half, Erbacher made spectacular back-to-back saves. After diving to stop one shot, the 37-year-old popped back up and leapt in the opposite direction to grab a second shot off the rebound.

"He probably had the best game he's had the whole year in goal," Driver said. "He was totally outstanding."

The fourth-place Crusaders (4-6) will not make the playoffs. Neither will the sixth-place Snow (2-6-3), who have struggled this season but played one of their better games Sunday.

Seizing opportunities is a big part of that.

"It's really a matter of just being clinical in the attacking third," Siwale said. "The game really just comes down to taking your chances. If you take them, it can change a game."

This has been a learning season for the Crusaders, who look very different from a year ago. The team has 11 18-year-olds.

"We really wanted to work some young guys into the program, and we've managed to do that," Driver said.

Contact Brittany Grugan:


Pocono Snow 0 1-1

AC Crusaders 0 0-0

Goals-Rudder PS.

Goalies-O'Rourke (7) PS; Erbacher (5) AC.

Records-Snow 2-6-3; Crusaders 4-6.

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