Boys Soccer falls to Reading, Prepares for PIAA Tournament

Article by Michael Bullock, Pennlive.com/Photos by Dan Gleiter, Pennlive.com

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

When Mechanicsburg doesn’t play like Mechanicsburg — which typically means push, push, push the tempo and fluster the opposition — that usually means trouble is going to follow for Tony Lougee’s aggressive Wildcats.

And it did.

Conceding a pair of goals to Bryan Franco — one on a restart and the second on a turnover deep in its own territory — Lougee’s Wildcats dropped a 2-0 verdict to a quality Reading side in the first of two District 3-AAA semifinal-round contests Tuesday night at breezy Hersheypark Stadium.

Raul Zamora added two saves as Mike Cahn’s Red Knights (21-2-0) — Reading picked up its 13th clean sheet — sped into Saturday’s District 3-AAA championship game against Lower Dauphin. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

It’s Reading’s first trip to a 3-AAA final.

Brandon Diehl finished with eight stops for Lougee’s Wildcats (16-5-0) — including several dandies — who must wait until Saturday’s title game wraps up to find out where they’ll spend the opening round of the state playoffs.

“They’re fast. They’re like the fastest team I’ve seen in a long time,” Lougee said. “They make you make a decision. They make you decide whether to go back-and-forth with them or sit back and just try to hang on.”

For much of the first half — even though Zach Sherman’s header in the second minute sailed just over the crossbar — Lougee’s ‘Cats sat back and tried to hang on. For much of the second, they decided to go back-and-forth with the Knights. Regardless of the approach, Mechanicsburg never caught up.

Franco’s first goal — which materialized in the sixth minute when Oliver Calvo unleashed a restart from the right wing that somehow managed to spin all the way across the crease for a tap-in at the far post — caused Mechanicsburg to stop playing confidently and briskly as Mechanicsburg usually does.

“I’m sure this happened to a lot of teams that have played Reading,” Lougee surmised. “That first goal and then their speed, I thought, just took us out of our game. We stopped being aggressive and we were real tentative.

“We can’t play like that. So, until the second half when we started pressing again, we gave up 30-some minutes when we didn’t put them under any pressure at all.”

Plus, the Wildcats lost plenty of physical battles — especially in the heart of the midfield whenever Edwin Navas decided he wanted the ball and the sophomore they call “Man Child” was determined to gain possession.

Even if it meant wrecking an opponent.

Navas, however, is more than just a traffic cop.

Extremely talented with the ball at his feet, and particularly when it’s on his left, he’s another integral part of Reading’s devastating attack.

“Edwin is a key piece in that center defensive mid for us and that lets Oliver work in there at attacking mid, so that’s important,” Cahn admitted. “If we don’t have Edwin, Oliver can’t do what he does. That helps a lot.

“He’s great. He’s got great skills.”

All of Reading’s attacking players do.

And when the Red Knights are sitting on the upper end of the scoreboard, that’s a problem for the guys trying to chase the game and catch up.

“First goal’s always important, changes the game,” Cahn said. “We’re an attacking team, so it definitely helps us to get out there and get that goal. Kind of the complete opposite of the last game against Dallastown, where I thought we played great but we didn’t get the goal [until late in a 1-0 win in Saturday’s quarters].

“It changes everything. They’re a great team. They played great. It was a battle the whole way. We just battled for that second goal. Their goalkeeper was incredible. He made a couple incredible saves, incredible saves.”

Even before Franco cashed in the first time, Diehl had to dive to keep a Christian Garcia shot from skipping in. Even after Franco pushed the Red Knights in front, the junior netminder used his body to absorb a redirect from teammate Kyle Flemmingthat was struck hard enough to poke a hole in his belly.

Another Reading pop — Omar Guzman’s header off Calvo’s corner — glanced off the crossbar and prevented the Knights from expanding on their first-half lead.

Something they never did.

And while Mechanicsburg picked up its intensity after the break — Sherman had several chances go high or wide — the Red Knights continued to make Diehl work between the posts just to keep the Wildcats within one.

Yet when Anthony Panuccio gave the ball back to the Red Knights on a short, misdirected clearance, Franco pounced on the opportunity and cashed in.

That second goal Reading wanted so badly finally had arrived.

“Turn the ball over in the middle third against these guys and it’s just brutal,” Lougee lamented.

“They score a ton of goals. We score a lot of goals,” Cahn said, referring to his pre-game message. “We’re both attacking teams, so it’s going to be who takes advantage of their opportunities. We felt good.

“I wish we could have gotten the second goal earlier, but I give [Mechanicsburg] all the credit for that. Their defense and their goalkeeper were just incredible. Against other teams, we would have had that second goal in the first half.”

While Zamora received plenty of support from center back Bryan Alvarado and flank defenders Cesar Flores and Jairo Ordonez, he took care of a Sherman try in the 69th minute that appeared headed for the underside of the crossbar.

Lougee’s ‘Cats generated one more quality scoring opportunity, but defender Mike Fowler’s restart glanced off the right post and scooted away.

Reading was headed for its first 3-AAA title game.

“These kids, they just earn it, they deserve it,” Cahn said. “That’s what I told them before the game and I told them again at halftime. It’s their time.

“We watched ‘Miracle’ about three-quarters of the way through the season,” Cahn added, referring to the film about the United States’ ice hockey team winning the 1980 Olympic gold medal. “We took a day off when we were beat up and it was bad weather. I reminded them of the line in there when Kurt Russell says before the Russia game, he’s like, ‘They’ve had their time, this is our time.’

“These teams, Dallastown, Hempfield, Wilson, they’ve had their time. This is our time. This is what we’ve been working for all this time.”

And while Reading will be playing in Saturday night’s District 3-AAA championship game, Lougee will spend the next week or so trying to rebuild his Wildcats’ confidence while getting them ready for a trip to southeastern Pennsylvania — or, perhaps, a journey to northeastern Pennsylvania.

States await Mechanicsburg, too.

“I think these guys will be fine,” Lougee said, referring to the Wildcats’ first PIAA playoffs appearance since 2010. “They just need to remember that we need to be who we are and just play. There’ll be a lot of great teams in states.

“I hope we just represent well.”

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Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

 

HERSHEY — Mechanicsburg was coming off a huge upset of Hershey on Saturday and traveled to Hersheypark Stadium for a contest against District 3-AAA No. 2 seed Reading.

The Wildcats couldn’t pull off that second upset and fell to the Red Knights, 2-0, in the 3-AAA semifinals Tuesday night.

Despite the loss, Mechanicsburg (16-5) still qualified for the upcoming PIAA tournament but won’t know its seed until the finals are played on Saturday. It will be the third seed if Reading wins the district title for the first time ever or the fourth seed if either Lower Dauphin or Central York wins the title.

“I thought we came out well but we started to back off a bit when they started to use their size and speed,” Wildcats coach Tony Lougee said. “They are very fast and skilled at every position and we couldn’t get much space and they had too much space. We tried to play too quickly at times when we had the time to settle and play. We have time to regroup for our next game next Tuesday in the state tournament.”

Mechanicsburg earned three corner kicks in the opening four minutes but its only shot was a header by Zach Sherman that just sailed over the crossbar.

Reading (21-2) started to get in on the offensive attack and Angel Orozco got a shot off that rolled to Wildcats keeper Brandon Diehl. On its next possession, Oliver Calvo was in the right corner when he was taken down. His restart sailed right through the crease where Bryan Franco was on the back post and tapped it right into the net, just 5:56 into the game.

“That first goal is so important because it can set the tone for the game,” Reading coach Mike Cahn said. “In every game you usually see a five-minute stretch where you just seem to be under siege and we saw it early. I told our kids we just needed to weather the storm and do whatever you can to not make it worse.”

The Red Knights almost doubled their lead moments later, with some assistance from the Wildcats defense. A short from Christian Garcia from the left side was deflected by Mechanicsburg defender Kyle Flemming. His deflection ricocheted off keeper Brandon Diehl, but fortunately Diehl was able to snag the ball.

Reading did a good job of moving the ball from side to side but wasn’t able to put another shot in the net.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats spent much of the half trying to free Zach Sherman down the middle, but central defender Bryan Alverado, as well as Jairo Ordonez and Edwin Navas seemed to limit space for Sherman, forcing him to go outside rather than inside.

Mechanicsburg came out with some energy in the second half but couldn’t get the equalizer, despite having several attempts. Sherman headed one wide and Mike Fowler ripped one just off the far post.

Reading took advantage of a Wildcats giveaway in the second half to take the two-goal lead. Franco again took a dribble past the right back and fired a low shot into the far corner for his second goal of the game.

“I was reminding our kids just before the game that no team is going to lay down at this point of the tournament and the winner is the team that takes advantage of a mistake,” Cahn said. “We took advantage of two mistakes and scored two goals.”

Reading played a physical, hard-nosed game. Navas and Alverado did an excellent job of containing the Wildcats attack and directing it away from their keeper. The Red Knights were quicker to most 50-50 balls and were able to dictate the game.

Boys Soccer bests Hershey, advances to PIAA Tournament

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

MANCHESTER — Two teams who know each other very well traveled to Manchester to finish someone’s season off.

Hershey and Mechanicsburg batted for the third time this season and ended up in penalty kicks to decide the winner.

No. 10 Mechanicsburg knocked in all four shots while keeper Brandon Diehl saved two Trojan shots to win the contest 3-2 (4-2 PKs) over second-ranked Hershey in the District 3-AAA boys soccer quarterfinals Saturday at Northeastern High School.

Tied at two, the teams went to penalty kicks and Hershey took the first shot. Brook Briggs stepped to the spot and Diehl guessed right and made the save.

“I guessed right on that first one,” Diehl said. “You have to just try to adjust to the shot and hope you are quick enough to get fingers on it.”

Mike Fowler buried his shot before Hershey’s Tanner Therit and the Wildcat’s Jo Panuccio exchanged goals.

In Round 3, Ryan Sullivan and Zach Sherman, of Mechanicsburg, exchanged goals and in the final round Greg Ryan-Daylor’s shot glanced off the right post before Brad Powell stepped to the spot and buried the game-winner.

“I didn’t really have anything running through my mind because of what Brandon had done,” said Powell, a senior forward. “Coach Lougee settled us down at the half telling us we were the better team and we just needed to finish the game and play our game.”

Hershey got the quick start as Mechanicsburg didn’t clear a ball and Jordan Wix-Rauch ran onto the ball, took two quick dribbles and beat Wildcats keeper Brandon Diehl to the far corner just 2:13 into the contest.

Hershey had two other chances, but the Wildcat defense stiffened and met the challenge.

Mechanicsburg finally evened the contest as Zack Heller dribbled down the middle of the field and dished to his right where Panuccio ran onto it and slid it under Trojan keeper Coleman Dieffenbach for the equalizer.

Hershey again took the lead late in the half as Tanner Therit fell in front of Wildcat defender Preston Gould, but officials ruled the play a penalty kick. Wix-Rauch stepped to the line and drilled it right corner for the 2-1 lead with just 4:42 left in the half.

Mechanicsburg came out of the half on fire and scored the equalizer just 13 seconds in. Zach Sherman fed Kyle Edgar who lifted a short pass into space and Sherman was able to bury it to tie the game at 2.

“I thought the kids really played a great game,” Wildcats coach Tony Lougee said. “We just needed to get a quick start in the second half. I thought we played very well defensively in the second half and in overtime.”

The rest of the half was battle of wills and who was going to make the mistake or the great play. Bodies were flying to the ground as every ball was contested and challenged.

No one scored despite each team having a solid chance. Arthur Cronin ripped one over the top from close range and Sherman headed one just wide of the net.

Each team had a good chance in overtime, but keepers made the plays they needed to make.

“It is the worst way to lose a game,” Trojans coach Les Heggan said, “It was a great game between two teams that have had two battles all ready this year. We knew what they had and they know us, but unfortunately when you get to penalty kicks, anything can happen.”


Article by Michael Bullock, Pennlive.com

For the full article, click here.

MANCHESTER — Unlike the regular season — when games can wind up deadlocked, even after 100 minutes of play — someone had to go forward.

So when Saturday’s scrap between Mid-Penn Keystone Division playmates Mechanicsburg and Hershey was still locked in a tie following regulation and a pair of excruciating overtime sessions, penalty kicks awaited.

And when Mechanicsburg’s Brad Powell stepped to the spot with a chance to wrap up the shootout and send the Wildcats forward, he didn’t miss.

None of Tony Lougee’s Wildcats did.

Given additional strength by Brandon Diehl’s stop at the beginning of the all-or-nothing shootout phase, subsequent finishes by Mike Fowler, Joseph Panuccio,Zach Sherman and Powell propelled Mechanicsburg past the Trojans 4-2 in a thrilling District 3-AAA quarterfinal-round contest at Northeastern High School.

The game was tied 2-2 following regulation and OT.

Panuccio and Sherman netted earlier scores for Lougee’s 10th-seeded Wildcats (16-4-0), who dropped both regular-season outings to Les Heggan’s Trojans.

Up next for Mechanicsburg will be a semifinal-round showdown Tuesday night with third-seeded Reading (20-2-0) in the first of two at Hersheypark Stadium. The Red Knights edged Dallastown 1-0 in the first of three Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

Mechanicsburg also locked up a berth in next month’s PIAA Class AAA playoffs. It’s the Wildcats’ first state run since the 2010 season.

Jordan Wix Rauch posted both goals for No. 2 Hershey (20-2-0), which owned leads of 1-0 and 2-1 only to see Mechanicsburg pull even. And when Sherman connected just 13 seconds into the second half — Kyle Edgar put him behind the defense — a back-and-forth game stayed that way for more than an hour.

Then came the PKs.

And Mechanicsburg quickly picked up momentum when Diehl lunged to his left to cover a Brook Briggs try. Moments later, the Wildcats owned a 1-0 advantage after Fowler’s effort from the spot glanced off the left post and in.

“We were so happy after that [save],” Powell admitted. “Second’s always best. If they miss it, they know right away that they have to make the rest and we have to miss one. If we don’t, every time they’re going to get a little more worried and take a worse shot.”

While Tanner Therit and Ryan Sullivan followed with successful efforts for the Trojans, Panuccio and Sherman rang up spot kicks to keep the Wildcats in front (3-2) heading to the shootout’s fourth round.

That brought Greg Ryan Daylor to the spot for the Trojans, but his pop glanced off the right post, providing Powell with a chance to clinch it for Mechanicsburg — and send the Wildcats into the state tournament.

Powell didn’t miss, sticking his shot in the left corner of the net.

“I tried to keep my heart rate down, because everyone’s screaming and stuff,” Powell said.

“Once again it was Diehl who got us there. He’s the reason I had a chance to put it away. I just took it and got it.”

“He’s the hero today,” Lougee added.

Starting quickly and with a strong breeze at his club’s back, Wix Rauch staked the Keystone Division and Mid-Penn tournament champs to a 1-0 lead when he slotted a 10-yard shot past Diehl (3 saves) with just 2:16 gone.

Panuccio brought the Wildcats level at the 13:53 mark, sliding a shot under Coleman Dieffenbach (4 saves) after Zack Heller put him in on Hershey’s goal.

Wix Rauch struck again at the 35:18 mark, converting a go-ahead penalty kick set up when Mechanicsburg’s Preston Gould upended Therit in the boxAnd when Sherman made it 2-2 in the opening moments of the second half — after Edgar’s tidy dish — those on hand were treated to plenty of drama.

Both sides had chances, but neither could cash in.

Art Cronin was in midway through the second half, just a few feet from the right post, but Hershey’s senior winger skied a ball well over the cage.

“Arthur had a beautiful chance,” Heggan said. “He was 1 v. 1 with the keeper, but he tried to take the paint off the wall. He just had to go to the other side.”

An airborne Sherman was able to get his head on the ball with four minutes to go, but that effort sailed wide.

Hershey had another dandy opportunity midway through the first OT, but Sullivan’s restart from a step outside the box whistled into the Mechanicsburg wall.

Panuccio stood over a freebie with 12 minutes gone in OT, but Dieffenbach made a tremendous reaction save after the restart was redirected. And Briggs’ pop from the left wing early in the second OT was tipped over by Diehl.

“We had our chances,” Heggan said. “But they had chances, too.”

“At times we were too excited and we overran things, just passed a little too hard,” Powell said about playing the Trojans for the third time. “I think Lougee really calmed us down at halftime and we were better after that.”

“I think Sherman settled us down with that goal,” Lougee quipped.

Among the games within the game that really intrigued the crowd on hand had to be the Panuccio-Andrew Sullivan duel and the one between Nick Oggero and Sherman. Lougee also brought 6-5 Cade Alioth off the bench and into the midfield for quality minutes and put Alec Gehman at right back from halftime on.

Gehman responded with a strong effort against the elusive Therit.

“One helped the other,” Lougee said. “Being able to get Cade some minutes in the midfield — because that’s where Alec was getting a majority of his minutes early on — that allows Alex to help us out in the back where he’s a little quicker, a little more technical. … Therit’s a handful and I think he did a phenomenal job.

“I just can’t say enough about him coming in and dealing with him.”

And eventually the Wildcats were able to get it done in PKs and move forward.

Someone had to.

“It stinks to end it that way, but it’s part of the game,” Heggan lamented.

“We talked obviously about not wanting it to end — and everybody’s like in the playoffs — but the one thing is this group of guys showed that they’ve grown since the first time we played Hershey,” Lougee added. “I was just glad that they deserved to play a good game, a smart game, and we’ll see what happens.”

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Girls Soccer powers past Palmyra

Article by John Tuscano, Pennlive.com/Photos by Dan Gleiter, Pennlive.com

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

Mechanicsburg is not only zeroing in on the end of the regular season, but the Wildcats are also locked in on a postseason berth. Now all that remains for the Wildcats is getting healthy and playing good soccer.

On the strength of a dominant effort up front from Megan Mansfield, host Mechanicsburg turned back Palmyra 3-0 Thursday night in Mid-Penn Keystone girls’ soccer action at Northside Elementary School.

Mansfield opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the first five minutes and assisted on scores from Sami Powell and Kyra Skurcenski as the ‘Cats (10-4-1, 6-4) solidified their hold on third place in the Capital Division.

Palmyra (6-8, 4-5), which is outside the top 20 of the District 3-AAA power rankings, is running out of time with just four regular season games remaining.

EARLY WILDCAT SURGE

The hosts established the midfield right from the jump and wasted little time in cracking the scoreboard as forwards Emma Strong and Linsday Humes worked a one-touch, give-and-go that led to the game’s first big scoring opportunity.

Humes touched the ball out to Strong on the left wing where Strong was taken down inside the box for a penalty. Mansfield took the resulting penalty kick and buried it past Palmyra keeper Katy McClellan (6 saves) to make it 1-0 just 4:44 into the match.

DEFLATING GOAL FOR PALMYRA

After spending the first 10 minutes back on their heels, Palmyra found its legs and began to put together a handful of scoring runs thanks to some solid play from senior mid Lucy Krikorian. Her restart just outside the 18 was headed towards Mechanicsburg keeper Kylie Peters (4 saves) in the 10th minute, but the shot hit a defender on the way in.

Later in the first half, Hannah Soucy and Hailey Ebersole both had shots inside the box and both were blocked by ‘Cats defenders before they could reach Peters.

In the closing minutes of the half, Mechanicsburg struck again as Mansfield carried into the box and slid a right wing pass for Powell, who sneaked a shot past McClellan to make it 2-0 with 2:37 left. Mansfield assisted on Skurcenski’s goal early in the second half to close out the scoring.

POST GAME REACTION

“It just wasn’t our night. We weren’t connecting like we have in the past couple of games. Mechanicsburg is a good team, a solid team with a couple of fast girls and they just beat us with turns down the field. I told the girls that we have four games left and we need to finish this season being strong.” – Palmyra coach Katie Stafiej

“I thought we did a really nice job of spreading out the field and we were able to keep possession a lot longer [than we did in the first meeting]. They’re a very talented team, but we kept possession and moved the ball side to side and down the seams.” — Mechanicsburg coach Sean Cochran

Volleyball edges Hershey

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photos by Curt Werner, For The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

MECHANICSBURG — The Mechanicsburg Wildcats volleyball team upset previously unbeaten Hershey by winning the final three games at Mechanicsburg Monday night by scores of 17-25, 25-15, 25-21 and 25-22.

The win moves Mechanicsburg into a second place tie with the Trojans, with both teams sitting at 6-1 in the Keystone Division race, a half-game behind unbeaten Lower Dauphin. The Trojans play Lower Dauphin tonight.

“This was a great team win for us,” said Wildcat coach Chris Fabian. “We have been trying to get the girls to play through every point to the end and try to take advantage of the momentum and their opponent’s mistakes. You just don’t know what to expect — you have to make plays and carry the momentum.”

Mechanicsburg (7-1, 6-1 Keystone) struggled throughout game one trying to string points together and keeping the ball in play. They gave away six points on wide, long, or net serves plus a few double hits and poor bumps, and the Trojans took advantage in game one.

Hershey led 7-4 and 9-6 behind the hitting of Allie Gemerek and Julieann Stanley, a 2013 Mid Penn All-Star. The ‘Cats rallied as Mikaela Calcara and Cassidy Krnjaic got several points and the ‘Cats went ahead 12-11. From that point, the Trojans outscored the home team 14-5 to take the first game. The majority of the points were Wildcat mistakes.

Mechanicsburg jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never trailed in the second game. Hershey got within two points twice at 4-2 and 6-4 as the ‘Cats found Allyson Fea in the middle and she took the game from there. Fea had five kills and four blocks, The key for the ‘Cats was their ability to keep balls in play and get a hit on the ball and let someone else make a play. They gained momentum early and never let up.

Brooke Serina, the senior libero, was instrumental at keeping balls in play and keeping the play alive. Kendall Bortner and Lindsay Brock were also key factors in the win as the ‘Cats kept their lead in the 7-10 point range.

The two teams went back and forth in game three until Heston Cowoski stepped to the service line. The ‘Cats were trailing 3-1 and when she stepped off the line the ‘Cats were ahead 8-3. Hershey rallied behind the service of Kathryn Conklin and Hannah Ferrara to take a 12-11 lead.

Mechanicsburg’s Brock downed one and then stepped to the service line for two points and the ‘Cats led 16-13.

Krnjaic had two aces late in the game and Calcara came up with a big block on the final point. The Wildcats had a 2-1 lead and had the momentum. Hershey helped out with five serves in the net or long in the final ten points.

Hershey again fell behind in game four as the home team scored the first three points. They extended the lead to 9-5 behind Fea and Brock, forcing Hershey coach John Zitka to take a time out. Hershey responded to his words and rallied to tie the game at 10, 11, and 12. The ‘Cats took a two-point lead but turned around and gave it right back, leading to a 14-14 tie.

Each team scored a few points but the Trojans were making the mistakes and allowed the ‘Cats to keep the lead. Mechanicsburg got a kill from Brock at 23-20 and a block from Krnjaic to lead 24-22. Serina took a set and fired a shot at the floor from the back line that found space to set off a celebration for the Wildcats.

“Allyson has really been playing well for us when we can get the set where she is comfortable,” said Fabian. “She is still learning how to adjust on a bad set or not in her wheelhouse. She does well at blocking around the net and it will be nice to have her for another year. Brooke Serina, our libero, has done a wonderful job at that position and we have had some positive senior leadership. We are looking for a big battle royale until the end with the three teams at the top. We still have each of them again.”

Hershey scores early, defeats Boys Soccer

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

MECHANICSBURG — Unbeaten Hershey brought their winning streak to the Northside Pitch on Thursday to tangle with a one-loss Mechanicsburg squad and they knew they were in for battle but got an early goal and bunkered in to snag a 1-0 whitewash of the Wildcats.

Hershey-Mechanicsburg games have typically been hard-fought, physical affairs that usually turn on one mistake by a defense. Mechanicsburg (7-2, 4-2 Keystone) made the early mistake and the Trojans capitalized just under two minutes into the contest. Junior Tanner Therit beat the Wildcat defense to the left corner and crossed a ball back toward the six-yard line. His cross found an unmarked Jordan Wix-Rauch, who easily found the back of the net at the 1:48 mark. It was Wix-Rauch’s 12th goal on the season for the Trojans.

Therit and Wix-Rauch proved to be thorns in the side of the Wildcats all evening as they repeatedly got Therit the ball in the corner where he was able to use his quickness and tenacity to send balls into the box.

Wix-Rauch found himself with plenty of space at times, but his counterpart for the Wildcats, Joseph Panuccio found very little space. Freshman Andrew Sullivan of Hershey spent his entire game shadowing Panuccio and allowed him very little space, which led to some frustration on Panuccio’s part. He felt every little jab in the back, elbow in the ribs, poke at his ankles and every grab of the shirt that Sullivan used. But Sullivan was successful throughout the contest and held Panuccio to one shot on goal.

“They are a very good team and we knew they would be physical and fast,” Hershey coach Les Heggan said. “We can play them physical but we don’t have the speed or depth that Mechanicsburg has. They are well-coached and we knew we had to control Panuccio and (Zac) Sherman. Andrew Cronin did a nice job keeping Sherman in front and Andrew Sullivan did everything we asked him to do and more. He was the difference in the game.”

Hershey’s defense was physical but almost too physical. Mechanicsburg was awarded a penalty kick on a take down and Sherman’s blast beat Trojan keeper Coleman Dieffenbach but clanked off the crossbar and bounded away and with it a great chance for the Wildcats to tie the contest and gain some momentum.

The two teams went toe-to-toe the rest of the contest but the defenses proved to be up to the task and sent balls back up the field. Both teams also sport tall defenders who were able to head crosses out of danger.

Both keepers — Dieffenbach for Hershey and Brandon Diehl for Mechanicsburg — each totaled five saves over the final 50 minutes. Both teams had chances but knocked crosses wide or over the net.

Mechanicsburg came out a bit more aggressive in the second half but just couldn’t finish. Alex Gehman, Dylan Snyder, and Kyle Edgar gave the Wildcats some good minutes and transitioned the ball well down the field in an attempt to find Sherman or Panuccio. Brad Powell also got off two good looks but one hit the keeper and the other hit the outside of the net.

Hershey’s defense supported the effort of Dieffenbach, who did a nice job of communicating to his backs what he was seeing form the goal mouth.

“We had our chances and I felt we did a good job of taking it to them for stretches of time,” Wildcat coach Tony Lougee said. “We gave up the early goal but we had the chance to tie the game on the penalty kick and that could have been a different story if we score there. It was a typical Hershey-Mechanicsburg game and we expected that. We just didn’t get that finish.”

Hershey improved to 9-0 on the season and 6-0 in the division. They have defeated the top two teams in the division (CD East and the Wildcats) but still must face Lower Dauphin next week in the battle for Hershey.

Camp Hill Field Hockey prevails over Wildcats

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

MECHANICSBURG — Both coaches in Saturday’s field hockey contest have been looking all season for a full game from their teams.

Mechanicsburg’s Kari Bianchi saw her squad looking good early on, but it was Julie Colestock and Camp Hill that turned in the complete effort, rallying all the way back to a 3-2 victory Saturday morning at John H. Frederick Field.

“We haven’t played two good halves back-to-back and I was happy to see how we responded to them scoring twice in the first half,” Colestock said. “I called a timeout in the first half because I didn’t feel we were being aggressive. I went after them and the goal we score in the final seconds was a key that changed the game.”

The Wildcats (3-3) had several chances as they rolled up four penalty corners in the first 15 minutes, but couldn’t put one in the net.

“We have struggled to put balls in the net and finish our opportunities,” Bianchi said. “We score two in the first half, but we gave up that goal in the final seconds that changed the game.”

Alexandra Rebman and Abby Martin gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead as they each scored within a three minute span capped by Martin’s goal at the 4:19 mark.

Camp Hill (3-2-1) got a crucial goal when, on a nice open field play, Syd Robertson found a streaking Hannah Zemaitis on the right wing. As Zemaitis ran toward the cage, Robertson ran directly to the far post for an attempt. Robertson was there for the tap-in and cut the deficit in half with just 1.6 seconds left in the half.

“These two teams play club ball together and they know who should not touch the ball and who should get the ball in certain situations,” Colestock said. “Our kids know that Kourtney Landis shouldn’t see the ball and we need to be aware of where she is at all times.

Robertson contributed to the second goal as she sent in a cross from the right side and Emily Nelson was in the right spot for the tap-in and the tie contest.

Rebman had two chances to give Mechanicsburg the lead, but both of her backhand shots rolled past the far post, missing by inches.

Camp Hill finally took the lead on a scramble in front of the net. The play was on the left side of the net and the ball squirted through to Linnie Trimmer. She was stationed on the far post and settled the ball and finished the chance and beat keeper Anne Becker’s diving attempt.

Mechanicsburg had some chances over the final 20 minutes, but Addie Guyer and Justine Colestock seemed to come up big as well as keeper Annie Kalpas who had four saves in the final minutes.

LIONS 3, WILDCATS 2

Camp Hill 1 2 — 3

Mechanicsburg 2 0 — 2

First Half

M- Alexandra Rebman, unassisted, 7:35

M- Abby Martin, unassisted, 4:19

CH- Sydney Robertson, assist Hannah Zemaitis, 0:01

Second Half

CH- Emily Nelson, assist Robertson, 28:48

CH- Linie Trimmer, unassisted, 22:10

Shots: CH 8; M 9

Corners: CH 5; M 7

Saves: CH (Annie Kalpas 7); M (Anne Becker 4).

Girls Soccer falls to Lower Dauphin

Article by Brett Keener, For The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

MECHANICSBURG — Lower Dauphin had spent nearly 55 minutes Tuesday night trying unsuccessfully to crack Mechanicsburg’s defense.

The Falcons had controlled the midfield for significant stretches. They several times came within striking distance of the Mechanicsburg goal. They had a handful of corner kicks. Nothing worked.

But just when it looked as if it would take an elaborate plan to break through against the Wildcats, the Falcons got a few seconds of brilliance from midfielder Madie Light — and that was all they needed in their 1-0 victory over Mechanicsburg in a Mid-Penn Keystone match at Northside Elementary.

“They did a nice job of shutting a lot of things down,” Lower Dauphin coach Nic Amici said. “Madie found a way. She’s got a high level of energy and she’s proved that. To come in late in a game and pull something like that off is testament to the preparation of a senior.”

Light’s strike came with 25:36 remaining in a game that had been scoreless. The senior had been in the middle of a couple opportunities early in the game, but the Falcons were able to put just one of their shots on goal in the first half against a stout Mechanicsburg defense.

The LD midfielder finally found a seam right down the middle though, and she scooped up a loose ball and dribbled through a line of Mechanicsburg defenders before uncorking a 25-yard laser that found a home just under the crossbar.

“LD’s a very talented team,” Mechanicsburg coach Sean Cochran said. “They came out very physical and very fast, but I thought we had some opportunities. They had some too, and they just finished on their opportunity.”

The Lower Dauphin defense took charge following the goal, particularly in the final 10 minutes. Mechanicsburg was held without a shot on goal over that final stretch, preserving the one-score margin and the victory for the Falcons.

There had been a fair amount of back-and-forth play in the minutes preceding Light’s marker, although it rarely translated to quality scoring chances. LD had the upper hand in the midfield early, but Mechanicsburg’s defensive group of Natalie Logan, Courtney Andrews, Amanda Crecelius and Erin Jones — with help from mid Megan Mansfield — choked off any LD momentum in the final third.

“If it’s 0-0 or 1-0, you’re in games,” Cochran said. “We’ve got three seniors back there in Courtney, Erin and Amanda that have just been awesome. They fought. We’ve got a young team in the midfield and up top, so our defense has been led by them.”

Lower Dauphin finally got a shot on goal with 15 minutes remaining in the half, when Mechanicsburg keeper Kylie Peters was forced to make a save on a drive Savannah Mushinski had marked for the upper 90.

That was it for the quality scoring chances for the remainder of the first half, and indeed the only until Light finally put the Falcons on the scoreboard midway through the second half.

“This was a critical game for both teams,” Amici said. “Mechanicsburg is a solid team, so to come in here and steal this one from them was real important for us. There’s long road ahead, but it’s nice to get the first one.”

 

Boys Soccer bests Trinity, upends Carlisle in Final

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photos by Sam Getty, For The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

MECHANICSBURG- The Wildcat boys took their division of the Booster Club Soccer Tournament by scoring two early goals and holding the Thundering Herd scoreless in a 3-0 win at the Northside Pitch.

The Wildcats beat Trinity 4-1 in the opening game while the Herd beat Southwestern 2-0 to reach the championship game. Trinity beat Southwestern 3-0 in the consolation game.

The youthful Herd, who started eight sophomores for coach Brandon Eiserman, had the first chance with a header by Jacob Cheeseborough off a dish from Trevor Weis, but was just wide right.

Instead, a Mechanicsburg corner led to the first goal. Mechanicsburg set up for the corner and the cross was cleared partly out of the box. From the left edge of the box, Joseph Panuccio turned and stuck a volley into the far corner of the cage for the 1-0 lead.

“Panuccio has been on a whole different level so far this year,” said Mechanicsburg coach Tony Lougee. “His decision-making has been outstanding and his passes and shots have been right on. The goal he scored today and the pass he made on the second goal were just great decisions and execution.”

His volley over the top of the defense found Zac Sherman who out ran the Herd defense who were looking for an offside call. Sherman slid the ball past an on-rushing Herd keeper Sandi Kadric and into the net for the 2-0 lead.

Mechanicsburg’s defense just didn’t allow the Herd to finish plays. Preston Gould, Anthony Panuccio, Mike Fowler and Kyle Flemming just continued to frustrate the Herd with their ability to step in with physicality, skill or just a good read on the final pass and send it up the field. Their height allowed them to win head balls as well.

Sherman and Brad Powell were solid up top as Powell continued to some how beat defenders, shield the ball, and find that corner to set up his forwards.

Jacob Huffman scored the third Wildcat goal on a scramble in front of the net late in the contest.

“I was very proud of our effort tonight against a very good Mechanicsburg team,” said Eisermen. “Our young kids came out and played well but we have to do a better job in the offensive third and get shots on goal and create opportunities. It was overall a good day for us. Mechanicsburg is a very physical and solid team and they are going to create problems for other teams this year.”

Girls Soccer defeats Ship, Ties Trinity in Final

Article by Jeffrey Kauffman, The Sentinel/Photos by Sam Getty, For The Sentinel

For the full article and photos of the game, click here.

MECHANICSBURG – Mechanicsburg rallied to score two second half goals to tie Trinity at 2 in the championship of the Mechanicsburg Booster Club Soccer tournament at the Northside Pitch Saturday night.

Mechanicsburg beat Shippensburg 7-0 in the first round while Trinity edged Carlisle 1-0 to reah the championship bout. Carlisle beat Shippensburg 5-0 in the consolation game.

Trinity (1-0-1) got a quick attempt in the opening minutes but Brenna Finegan’s restart sailed just over the crossbar.

Midway through the first half, Finegan again set up on a restart foul and her shot sailed over Mechanicsburg keeper Kylie Peters and into the top of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half, a Mechanicsburg defender was given a yellow card. With the Wildcats a man down, Trinity took advantage. Ashley Mahaffey found Ashley Rogliano and the latter’s shot hit the back of the net.

“The difference in this game was the senior leadership,” said Wildcat coach Sean Cochran. “Amanda Crecelius and Courtney Andrews just kept encouraging their teammates and wouldn’t allow the girls to quit playing. Erin Jones, Lindsay Humes, Sammy Powell, Nicole Weenick just kept battling and we finally got the first one. So proud of their effort and ability to respond when they fell behind.”

Megan Mansfield found herself one on one with Amanda Knaub and Knaub knocked down her first shot but Mansfield stayed with it and finally knocked it across the line to cut the deficit in half.

Mechanicsburg (1-0-1 overall) got the equalizer late as Kyra Skurcenski was in the way and the shot by Humes appeared to deflect off her hip and into the net.

Neither team could score in the two ten-minute overtime periods and the teams were declared co-champions.

“I thought the girls played very well,” said Trinity coach Terry Mull. “We had the lead but couldn’t close it out. Mechanicsburg really came out strong in that final twenty minutes and we had some girls that were gassed and our bench is not that deep this year. We are trying to fill big holes in the middle of the field- you can’t just replace kids like Micaela Oliverio, Ali Basom, Addy Fitzgerald and Miranda Rogliano- they were senior leaders by example and we are still looking for that this year. I was proud of the effort.”

Football drops season opener to Carlisle

Article by Eric Epler, Pennlive.com/Photos by Mark Pynes, Pennlive.com

For the full article, click here.

For photos of the game, click here.

Billy Burger said his Carlisle teammates began thinking about this first week of the 2014 high school football season nearly 10 months ago.

Back then the Herd only manufactured one lasting memory when they slid past Harrisburg for their only win of the season. A handful more evaporated under a continuous pressure that Josh Oswalt’s crew was not equipped to handle.

That suffering seems to be over now.

Burger connected on 21 of 32 pass attempts for 295 yards and running back Tyler Greeneetched three scores Friday night at Frederick Field as Carlisle packed away a 43-28 victory over host Mechanicsburg. Burger pitched in two touchdown passes and a designed QB draw that stretched 40 yards, all of it stretching Carlisle’s winning streak to an important two games.

The win also avenged last year’s heart-tugging 24-14 setback to the Wildcats, who kickstarted Carlisle spiraling campaign via 17 fourth-quarter points. With the way Oswalt’s swift assembly played on Friday, no such comeback was possible this time.

“The emphasis all offseason was to get some more offensive production and finish. We have to make sure we finish games,” said Oswalt. “That’s a very good [Mechanicsburg] offense and they’re going to win games. But we put this offense in knowing we have a guy who is very talented at QB and can do it.”

Burger’s counterpart, Wildcats QB Tyler Schubert, did manage 280 yards and three scores, the last a 26-yard dart to Breon Coke in the waning seconds. But Carlisle also picked Mechanicsburg’s senior leader twice. Running back Shyheim Brown had 131 rushing yards on 29 totes for the Cats.

THE BIG PICK

Carlisle snared a 20-14 edge at the break, and it didn’t take long to extend the lead in the second half. Aided by Burger’s deep slant to Deonte Ramsey (6 catches, 112 yards), the Herd went up 27-14 when Greene blasted in the Wildcats 5.

One series later, Burger found Mike Wuestner in the endzone and Carlisle was in cruise control.

“Honestly, it was just a full-team effort. It started all summer after that last victory over Harrisburg,” Burger said. “We’re hoping it continues and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get the rest of the team ready to keep it going.”

To Mechanicsburg’s credit, the Wildcats kept plugging away, ending a 12-play drive early in the fourth with Brown’s 2-yard dive. Schubert dialed up four big completions in the 55-yard scoring drive.

Roughly one minute later, Mechanicsburg regained possession and was driving again when Carlisle DB Zion Patterson stepped in an picked off Schubert’s overthrow near the six-minute mark of the fourth.

“I just overthrew it. [Jeray Anderson] ran a great route and got separation so it was my mistake,” Schubert said. “Mistakes are going to happen.”

EARLY MOMENTUM

The Wildcats only needed 97 seconds to take the lead as Schubert targeted Tommy Marlin from 15 yards out. That followed a crisp heave to Brown on Mechanicsburg’s opening play, good for 42 yards.

By the time the first quarter ended, Greene (12 carries, 47 yards) already had banked two TD runs, his first set up by Grant Shughart’s interception. Carlisle receiverGlenn Jackson played a pivotal role for Carlisle, too, catching seven passes for 119 yards and a fourth-quarter TD reception.

Deshawn Millington chipped in 90 rushing yards, on just seven carries, for Carlisle.

THE LOCKER ROOM

“We’ve got guys that have bought in and they are very talented. And they know if they work hard in the offseason, we were going to get them the rock and get them some yum-yum, as we like to call it.” – Carlisle head coach Josh Oswalt.

“I think we just didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities we had. I know I missed a couple of wide open guys.” – Mechanicsburg QB Tyler Schubert

“It was great. I know we started slow and that sometimes happens. But, it’s not how you start it’s how you finish. We kept scoring, we kept moving the ball and it was just a great feeling.” – Carlisle QB Billy Burger

Epler on Twitter: @threejacker

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Article by Jake Adams, The Sentinel/Photos by Michael Bupp, The Sentinel

For the full article, click here.

MECHANICSBURG — Mechanicsburg’s Tyler Schubert was the quarterback everyone knew about.

But after Friday night’s season opener, it was Carlisle’s Billy Burger who stole the show. The senior signal caller kept drive after drive alive, tossing for 290 yards on 18-for-29 passing and two touchdowns in the Thundering Herd’s 43-28 victory over the Wildcats at John H. Frederick Field in Memorial Park.

Schubert put up impressive numbers, too, completing 25-of-45 passes for 280 yards and three scores of his own, but two interceptions wound up costing the Wildcats.

“They have good quarterback, but I like mine,” Herd coach Josh Oswalt said.

No one could fault him after Carlisle’s impressive spread offense debut at Memorial Park. The Herd worked on it all offseason, hoping to capitalize on the shiftiness and quickness of wideouts Zion Patterson and Deonte Ramsey, as well as tailback Tyler Greene and wildcat quarterback Deshawn Millington.

And it worked. Carlisle torched the Wildcat defense for 448 total yards.

“The emphasis all offseason was to get some more offensive production, help the defense out a little bit,” Oswalt said.

Glenn Jackson and Ramsey were the biggest beneficiaries. Ramsey snagged six balls for 111 yards, including a 47-yard burner down the right sideline that set up one of Greene’s three TDs, a five yard scamper to make it 27-7.

“Billy’s just going to be Billy this year,” Ramsey said. “He got a lot better this year and I’m proud of him.”

Jackson hauled in six passes for 129 yards and a score, routinely carving through the defense on seem routes. His final catch was a thing of beauty, as Burger led him perfectly down the left hashmarks just as a defender collided with him. Jackson simply bounced off and took it to the house for the 37-yard dagger to all but seal the contest.

“We put this offense in knowing that we got a guy who’s very talented. I love Billy on both sides of the ball,” Oswalt said. “He had a heckuva player… He’ll be fun this year.”

Another facet of the spread came in the form of change-of-pace QB Millington. The sophomore stepped in a handful of times in the first half, and again in the third when Burger hurt his ankle diving for a possible interception in the third.

Millington used his feet to cause havoc, handling the rock seven times for 90 yards. He also completed his lone pass for 11 yards. Mechanicsburg had no answers for him, especially on a 75-yard run to the five in which he ran right, broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, then cut all the way back to the left. But an illegal block was called at the Mechanicsburg 25. Greene eventually made up for it with a 4-yard score.

“If he needs to come in and get us a couple yards, by all means put him in,” Burger said of Millington.

Mechanicsburg nearly made it a game despite trailing 33-14 entering the fourth quarter. But down 33-21 with less than seven minutes to go, Schubert fired a pass into traffic in the middle of the field, only for Patterson to pick it off. Burger found Michael Wuestner from eight yards out for Carlisle’s final touchdown.

“I just overthrew it, it was a bad ball,” Schubert said.

“The big F-word, finish,” Oswalt said. “We gotta make sure that we’re finishing games… Luckily Zion comes up with a big interception late.”

The win is now the Herd’s second straight going back to last season, when they stunned Harrisburg in the regular-season finale to end a 20-game losing streak.

“It feels great,” Ramsey said. “Coming out, knowing that we got this first dub, carried the momentum, we just gotta move forward now.

Email Jake Adams at jadams@cumberlink.com or follow him on Twitter @jakeadams520