Pam Pack meets conference foe in Round 2

Published 4:43 pm Friday, October 31, 2014

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS PEP TALK: Head coach Jim Kozuch talks to his team before its first round matchup against Kinston on Tuesday.

PEP TALK: Head coach Jim Kozuch talks to his team before its first round matchup against Kinston on Tuesday.

Washington hosts North Pitt Saturday at 11 a.m.

Two conference adversaries will share a pitch for the third time this season tomorrow in Washington with a place in the third round of the Class 2-A state playoffs at stake.

With more to lose this time around, North Pitt and Washington, two teams that have become uncomfortably familiar with each other over the last two seasons, will lay it all on the line in what head coach Jim Kozuch anticipates to be a grudge match.

“At this point, you can throw out anything that we know about anybody because they’re going to come at us with everything they’ve got,” he said. “We need to get up, get excited and be ready to win. “

Since joining the Eastern Plains Conference in 2013, the Pam Pack has dominated the table, winning 20 games in two years, including four against the Panthers. And while the relegation from 3-A to 2-A has allowed Washington to flex its muscles in a considerably weaker conference, North Pitt has always proved to be a gritty and respectable antagonist. Nothing has ever come easy when these two teams take the field. Battling a handful of injuries in key places, Kozuch is hardly underestimating his opponent heading into tomorrow’s matchup.

North Pitt’s 7-3 conference record landed them in second-place, half a game ahead of a resurgent North Johnston team. In the Panthers’ first meeting with Washington, two early goes from Kyle Hodges gave the Pam Pack a 2-0-halftime lead. But the Panthers responded with two goals in the second half from sophomores Marco Cantera and Alan Federico. Those two goals remain the most scored against keeper William Tate and the Washington defense in a single conference game all season, though Washington eventually took the game, 5-2, carried by three late second-half goals.

In the second meeting this season, Washington exploited a broken down defense and notched six goals in the first half en route to a 7-1 win, but the Panthers matched the Pam Pack’s passion in the second half.

Offensive intensity has hardly been a question for Washington and the defense, though occasionally inconsistent, has proved it’s worth. This game will be won in the midfield, where Kozuch will look to his playmakers to shake off some bumps and bruises and move the ball efficiently.

Tomorrow’s game will kick off in Wagner Stadium at 11 a.m. and the victor will advance the the third round, where they will face the winner of No. 13-seeded Croatan and No.4 Greene Central.