POTSDAM — The Peru boys were playing their best soccer the second half of the league season.
And, despite a long layoff, the Indians have picked up right where they left off.
Peru scored three second-half goals Wednesday night and defeated Section X champion Franklin Academy, 3-1, in the opening round of the NYSPHSAA Class A Tournament.
The Section VII-champion Indians will play Averill Park at 5 p.m. at the Plattsburgh High School Athletic Complex on Saturday in the state quarterfinals.
“We hadn’t played in three weeks and our focus was remembering to stay sharp despite not having the opportunity to play a game,” Peru coach Matt Armstrong said.
“I was happy with how we played (Wednesday). Our senior captains stepped up and I was proud of the entire team. It was a team win. Our goal is to play 80 minutes of good soccer and we did that for the most part.”
The Huskies (9-7-1) probably knew they were in some trouble when they got outshot by the Indians in the opening half despite having a strong wind at their backs.
“Our mindset in the first half was to survive and maybe steal a goal,” Armstrong said. “We did have our chances against the wind, even though we didn’t score.”
Peru’s offensive talent, however, broke through in the second half.
It started out just 3:58 into the second stanza when speedy Jacob Dick chipped a shot into the far corner of the net from the side to give Peru the lead for good. The assist went to Russell LaFave.
“After we scored the first goal, we started to play the way we’re capable of,” Armstrong said.
Peru (10-4-2) then broke it open while taking a 3-0 lead within a 40-second span.
Ian Spear took a pass from Dick, gained control at the top of the box and sent a low shot into the far corner of the net for a 2-0 Peru lead at the 20:05 mark.
Then, shortly after at 20:45, Jonathan Plessis-Belair got into the scoring act with a shot from the side that found the far corner of the net similar to Dick’s goal.
“The two goals were the ice-breaker,” Armstrong said. “We had to overcome some adversity, like we have all season. I thought our players did a good job keeping their composure when we were getting the chances and not scoring.”
To the Huskies’ credit, they kept battling and broke Peru’s shutout bid with 4:35 remaining in the game. Alex Johnson sent a shot from the outside over the head of Peru keeper Guy Loveless and into the net.
“We had a little letdown,” Armstrong said. “But I was happy with our overall performance. A win’s a win.”
The Indians finished with a 22-9 advantage in shots. Loveless ended up with four saves and Austin Lamay turned away 11 shots for the Huskies.
Peru 3, Franklin Academy 1
Peru 0 3 — 3
Franklin Academy 0 1 — 1
Second half- 1, P, J. Dick (LaFave), 3:58. 2, P, Spear (J. Dick), 20:05. 3, P, Plessis-Belair, 20:45. 4, FA, Johnson, 35:25.
Shots: Peru 22, Franklin Academy 11.
Saves: Loveless,P, 4. Lamay, FA, 11.