Article by Andy Shay, Pennlive.com
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In its previous four games prior to Friday night’s contest, the Mechanicsburg defense had surrendered 377, 376, 411 and 412 yards of total offense.
That’s six yards shy of 400 a game over a full month.
And the Indians squad visiting John H. Frederick Field for senior night was coming off its best offensive output in weeks – rolling up 54 points and more than 400 rushing yards in a victory over Hershey.
Yes, the Mechanicsburg offense did its part by rolling up more than 400 yards of total offense and scoring four touchdowns.
But this much-needed victory over the Indians falls to a defense that limited the Indians to fewer than 140 total yards and only two offensive touchdowns in a 31-28 Mechanicsburg victory.
“This was all about effort and attitude,” Wildcats coach Chris Hakel said. “Earlier in the year they didn’t have the right attitude and it showed in their effort. But they’ve turned it around. The whole key to this is in high school football you have to believe.”
The Wildcats’ defense only gave up one scoring drive of any measurable distance. On the opening drive of the second half, Susquehanna Twp traveled 56 yards in five plays to open up a 28-17 lead at the 8:16 mark of the third quarter.
And it was the last points the Indians would put on the board.
The first two Susquehanna Twp touchdowns came on long kickoff returns. And its other score in the first half came after a bad snap on a punt that set the Indians up at the Wildcats’ 11-yard-line.
And that goal-line stand to open the fourth quarter swung momentum to the home side for the remainder of the final quarter.
“We got guys to the football. They have some shifty backs,” Hakel said. “And one guy isn’t going to bring them down. The focus this week was staying in our lanes and getting to the football.”
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Article by Chris Johnson, The Sentinel
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MECHANICSBURG — Mechanicsburg’s senior night provided the halftime fireworks, however the football game at Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Park between the Mechanicsburg Wildcats and the Susquehanna Township Indians had plenty of excitement for the capacity crowd in attendance.
In a game that featured a rarity with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the first quarter by the same team, it was the Wildcats that overcame this early hole to finally grab back the lead in the final quarter. Coming down to the wire in the fourth quarter, the Indian offense ran out of time and fell at the horn 31-28 to the Wildcats.
The dynamic return duo of Chris Ciotti and Lorin Butler had kick return touchdowns of 98 yards and 75 yards respectively, however, outside of those big plays, the Susquehanna Township offense was quelled by the focused and determined Mechanicsburg (5-4, 2-4 Keystone) defense.
On the opposite side of the ball, the quick offense of the Wildcats led by quarterback Tyler Schubert and the family air and ground attack of Swahneek and Shyheim Brown were at the forefront of the game throughout and especially in the second half.
“It keeps them off-balance,” Mechanicsburg coach Chris Hakel said of the Wildcats dual-attack offense. “There were a couple times where I saw that we caught them before they were actually ready.”
Swahneek Brown caught three touchdown passes from the arm of Schubert, none bigger than the 17 yard strike that put the Wildcats ahead for good with 7:27 remaining in the game. Swahneek finished with 7 catches for 119 yards and Shyheim toted the ball 29 times for 119 yards in a very active effort.
Unfortunately, the Susquehanna Township (4-5, 2-4) passing attack was not as effective and, after a strong start on the ground, the Mechanicsburg defense stiffened up and limited the drives of the Indian offense.
While the penalties were few and far between in the first half, in the second half the game got a bit more scrappy and many calls played an important role in determining the field position of both teams.
“They see a formation and maybe they line up the wrong way,” Hakel said. “You exploit what is there. These kids are believing in what we are doing and that is the exciting part.”
Next week, Mechanicsburg heads on the road to Camp Hill on Friday night to face Cedar Cliff while Susquehanna Township hosts Red Land.
Article by Michael Bullock, Pennlive.com
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LANDISVILLE — When Mechanicsburg’s soccer-playing Wildcats take a look back at how their season came to an abrupt close — whether today, tomorrow, sometime next week or even six months from now — some may rue the missed opportunities that might have carried them at least one round deeper.
Others, of course, will focus on the number of goals Tony Lougee’s club conceded to an outfit that doesn’t find the back of the net all that often.
Yeah, it was one of those games featuring plenty of odd circumstances — for both sides. And yet, when those final seconds finally ground to a halt Tuesday night, the guys playing at home were the ones who somehow found a way.
Zach Lockley’s headball finish with 10:52 remaining — the high-arching ball actually may have spun in off defender Zach Brunner’s gourd — proved to be the difference as a resourceful Hempfield side collared a 3-2 victory over a gritty Mechanicsburg outfit in a District 3-AAA round-of-16 dustup at chilly Georgelis Law Firm Stadium.
Nathan Haile and Seamus Fitzpatrick also connected for Mark Ashley’s Black Knights (12-3-6), who zipped to a 2-0 lead with just under 17 minutes gone only to see Lougee’s Wildcats put on a determined rally that pulled the Mid-Penn Keystone Division co-champions (15-4-0) into a 2-all tie early in the second half.
And surrender a multiple-score lead is something Hempfield just doesn’t do.
That’s exactly what happened, however, as Ryan Wolf turned a pair of Brad Powell services into a first-half score that made things interesting and a headball finish just 49 seconds into the second half that had the Wildcats even.
Wound up, too.
“We were put in a position tonight that we haven’t been in all year,” said Ashley, whose Black Knights have conceded just nine scores in 21 contests. “We’ve rarely had a two-goal lead all season, so to give up two the guys started to question themselves I’m sure. And some may have been wondering, ‘These guys are on our heels here, OK, can we regain some momentum or get some possession back?’
“Early on I thought we possessed really well, but as the half went on they began to get more of the play,” Ashley continued. “And obviously with their speed and their attack, we had trouble with their speed. The key there was just not losing our composure after that second goal because it would have been easy to do that.”
And even though Mechanicsburg’s Joseph Panuccio peppered the crossbar with some 17 minutes to play — Powell popped each upright in the opening half — that near-miss was just one of several that would not fall for the Wildcats.
Then, with just under 11 minutes to go, center back Ryan Wilson stood over a restart not far from the midfield stripe. A moment or two later, Wilson flighted a ball into the crowd jostling for position not far from the top edge of the six.
One touch off a head later — whether Lockley’s or Brunner’s — the Black Knights were sitting on a 3-2 lead that allowed several of Ashley’s players to exhale.
But only momentarily.
Zach Sherman, who was effectively bottled up by center backs Wilson and Colby Smith, had a shot roll wide just after Lockley’s go-ahead score — but a Wildcats club that put so much into finding an equalizer was unable to locate a second.
“It was close, but in the end I think we just had to do a better job [defensively],” Lougee admitted. “You can’t give up three goals, however they came.
“Against Hempfield, that’s not gonna work,” added Lougee, whose Wildcats strolled confidently into Georgelis lugging a sparkling 10-game winning streak. “These guys have done a real nice job this year, they came along.”
And even though Lockley’s through ball put Haile in on goalkeeper Brandon Diehl some nine minutes in — and Haile’s slotted shot promptly put Hempfield in front — Lougee’s Wildcats didn’t seem to be fazed by their early deficit.
Powell, who had a terrific night on the right wing until Ashley opted to bring on the smaller, athletic Alex Pink and move Kyle Suchar up, found space and skipped a shot that glanced off the left post and spun down the line before a Hempfield clear.
Ashley’s Black Knights also had plenty of success frustrating Mechanicsburg’s energetic midfield duo of Panuccio and Joe Lewis, as Lockley and Raiyu Ayanto fashioned terrific two-way play throughout the 80-minute exercise.
Moments later, Hempfield keeper Brian Gately (2 saves) cleanly handled a Brunner headball that was generated off a corner. Yet another charge put Powell in position, but his shot was stiffed by the right post and the Wildcats were denied yet again.
Even after Fitzpatrick’s volley at the 16:57 mark upped the Knights’ lead to 2-0 — Benjamin Groff served the ball from the right corner — the Wildcats kept digging and digging until Powell’s dish from the end line skipped across the crease to Wolf.
With time, Wolf was able to settle, pick a spot and finish with 6:14 to go.
Powell’s efforts in the right corner early in the second half also proved profitable as he outworked Suchar, then flighted a terrific ball toward the near upright that an airborne Wolf promptly nodded home for the equalizer.
“These guys have shown that resilience and certainly getting a goal in before the half and coming out for the second half ready [was big],” Lougee said. “It just seemed that after we did that, we just sort of lost our … sort of our rhythm.
“It became sloppy I thought and that set piece was just sort of a bad little bounce and that was that.”
And it was.
“Anything can happen when you get the ball on the frame in a crowd of guys,” Ashley remarked. “It’s just difficult for a keeper to handle that with just bodies and deflections and whatever.
“Too often you see guys — and we’re guilty of it — putting balls over the top because they’re trying to get that perfect ball with the topspin and drop it in,” Ashley continued. “This was smart. [Wilson] put it right on frame and said to our guys, ‘Go get it. Go get a piece of it.”
Safely past Mechanicsburg for the second straight postseason, Ashley’s Black Knights will try to go get a piece of top-seeded Cumberland Valley on Saturday (5 p.m.) at Hersheypark Stadium. They met earlier this season — they also met in last year’s 3-AAA final with Hempfield prevailing 1-0 — when CV won 1-0.
“This is where you depend on your senior leadership, the guys who have some experience from the year before,” Ashley admitted. “Hopefully, we can rely on that a little bit. But the young kids have stepped up well for us and I know they’re hungry and they’ve heard about Cumberland Valley.
“We played them early in the year and we know how good they are and we respect them and now it’s just a matter of coming out and trying to execute.”
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Article by John Tuscano, Pennlive.com
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Michael Gadd, who already had two interceptions to his credit Saturday afternoon, went with his gut and anticipated where Mechanicsburg quarterback Tyler Schubert was going on his 38th and final pass attempt.
“We knew they were going to pass, so it was up to the secondary to make something happen,” Gadd said.
“I had an opportunity to step up and make a play and I did.”
Gadd stepped in front of wideout Swahneek Brown at the goal line and picked off Schubert for the third time, averting a fourth quarter collapse and preserving Hershey’s 35-32, Mid-Penn Keystone victory at Milton Hershey’s Henry Hershey Field.
It wasn’t just a smart, heady play by Gadd, it was a momentum killer for Mechanicsburg that seemed to come out of nowhere.
The momentum was at Mechanicsburg’s back in the fourth quarter, even after Jesse Campbell’s 53-yard touchdown run made it 35-25 with 6:44 left.
While the Wildcats leaned heavily on tailback Shyheim Brown for the first 2 1/2 quarters, Chris Hakel’s club rallied through the air. Schubert found a rhythm with Swahneek Brown, Breon Coke and Takeno Scales.
It resulted in an 11-play, 71-yard drive that was led by six Schubert completions, the last coming on a terrific catch in the back right corner of the end zone by Swahneek Brown.
Trailing 35-32, the ‘Cats had the ball again after they recovered an onside kick.
This time, the visitors drove from their own 32 to the Hershey 5 with Schubert completing three passes to Shyheim Brown and one to Coke. On 3rd-and-goal from the 6, Mechanicsburg had time to take one last shot at the end zone.
Complete the pass and the ‘Cats would have pulled off an improbably victory. An incompletion would have meant a chip shot field goal by the reliable Ben Dubas to tie the game and likely send it to overtime.
Instead, Gadd made sure neither of those scenarios came to pass.
“That last play, I felt like it was snowball going downhill on us,” Hershey coach Mark Painter said.
“That play was a huge highlight and the second half is kind of a blur. It was good fundamental football by [Gadd]. He anticipated the ball and got in front of it.”
Article by Michael Bullock, Pennlive.com
For the full article, click here.
Fully aware they were parked in a three-way logjam atop the Mid-Penn’s extraordinarily messy Keystone Division when they stepped off the bus, Mechanicsburg’s soccer-playing Wildcats knew they were facing an opportunity they couldn’t whiff on.
Plus, it was one of those chances that just demanded an effort.
Not just any kind of workmanlike effort, but one of those all-out, high-pitched performances Tony Lougee’s clubs have become accustomed to cranking out when squaring off against a formidable adversary — home and/or away.
That’s what happened Monday night at chilly Hershey, where Lougee’s Wildcats parlayed a blistering first half filled with terrific soccer into a 4-2 victory over the host Trojans that popped the visitors into the Keystone Division lead.
For at least one day.
Zach Sherman authored two finishes, while Ryan Wolf and Brad Powell checked in with one apiece as Lougee’s determined Wildcats (13-3, 10-3) moved in front of idle Lower Dauphin while stretching their winning streak to eight games.
Lower Dauphin visits Palmyra Tuesday night.
Ben Haines and Dalton Awde pocketed second-half scores for Les Heggan’s Trojans (13-3, 9-3), who dropped into third place after beginning the day with a share of the Keystone lead tucked away amongst their travel gear.
And while Mechanicsburg was able to get the better of Hershey by setting a blistering pace throughout the opening half and cashing in repeatedly, it was merely three-plus weeks ago when the Trojans bounced out of the Northside Cage with a 4-0 victory that left the Wildcats disheartened and discouraged.
They haven’t lost since.
“When you lose games like that, they’re tough, but they definitely build your character,” Sherman said of Mechanicsburg’s earlier skid. “You want to come out and win games. So we got in that lull where we lost those three games, but coming out of that we came out strong and we came out to win.
“And that’s what we’re trying to do for the rest of the season here.”
Since that earlier to the Trojans put the Wildcats two games back of Keystone frontrunners Hershey and Lower Dauphin — in mid-September — Lougee’s club needed to find its rhythm and fairly quickly. They also needed some help.
Although defeating Lower Dauphin in overtime (2-1) last week at home was a massive positive stride, once those same Falcons turned around several days later and toppled Hershey to set up the three-way tie, the Wildcats had their chance.
And they didn’t swing and miss.
“At that point, the minute you stop talking and worrying about that kind of stuff is the minute where it starts taking care of itself,” Lougee said. “Back then, we thought we could get some early and we started worrying about it.
“We’ve just been out playing, and that’s really a good thing. We just figured it would take care of itself if we hopefully played our games.”
Out hard from the start and moving the ball swiftly from player to player, Lougee’s Wildcats took control from the opening whistle by just going after Heggan’s Trojans.
One-touch passing with plenty of off-the-ball movement.
Concentrated defensive play when needed, with special emphasis on knowing where the potent Haines and Jordan Wix Rauch were. When it was over, those two players had combined for one shot.
That wasn’t all of it.
“At the start of the game, we were just flat for some reason,” Heggan said.
“Big game and you tell them you’re still in the hunt for at least part of the title. You’ve got to come out [and play]. They beat us to every 50-50 ball. … It was like a track meet for them and we were just standing and watching.
“Gotta give your hat to them.”
While the Wildcats had several early opportunities, Sherman finally popped the visitors in front at 14:02 when his blast from the middle of the penalty area glanced off Matt Johnson’s outstretched fingertips and whistled in. A dandy through ball from Eugenio Demarin put the hard-working junior in on Johnson.
Some 15 minutes later, Mike Fowler’s restart from the right wing was flighted into the mixer and the ball ricocheted to Sherman. Using second effort, he was able to slip a shot underneath Johnson (5 saves) for the Wildcats’ second score.
“It was real critical to come out and put a whole bunch on them, get them down early cause that’s what they did to us when they came to our home field,” Sherman said. “We all came out here and wanted to put on a show for the people that come out and watch us. I think we did.
“I think we came out pretty well, we jumped on them and ended up with a win, too.”
Mechanicsburg would tack on two more scores before the halftime break, converting well-paced counterattacks into timely finishes. Joseph Panuccio, who performed with energy and aplomb all night long, set up both scores by sending slicing balls through the Hershey D at a full gallop.
One set up Wolf’s finish at 33:17. The other led to Powell’s score at 36:17.
“That whole junior class is really key,” Lougee admitted. “Wolf and [Joe] Lewis are gonna bring it every game, they’re gonna be there. [In fact], Wolf blew himself out by just going crazy and creating chaos early on.
“Powell and Sherman and Panuccio, [Zack] Heller, those guys when they play like that they’re just a tough, tough group. It’s just that consistency and that’s a step we’ve worked on since the beginning of the year and I’m happy for them.”
Although Hershey would answer after the break on Haines’ chip at 45:24 and Awde’s rebound of his own shot at 70:06, the damage had already been done and the Trojans didn’t have enough to climb out of a four-goal abyss.
“Basically, we lost the midfield in the first half,” Heggan remarked.
“Like I said, they just ran right through us.”
Like a team determined to jump into the division lead. And with games remaining against Susquehanna Twp. and Middletown, the Wildcats hope to stay there.
Let everyone come to them.
“We’ve got to win these games coming up, finish out this week strong and we’ll see where that goes with the rest of the teams playing,” Sherman said.
“This team has a lot of young players on it that had to grow and had to face some adversity,” Lougee said. “That gave them a chance to be who they are this week. We talked bout that being a good experience and having to take our lumps and learn from them. They really did [want this one].
“They had a great attitude tonight, they came out ready.”
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MECHANICSBURG — Sitting in third place with both teams ahead of them on the schedule in the next week, the Mechanicsburg Wildcats had the prime opportunity to get themselves back in the hunt for the Keystone Division title. Zach Sherman scored in overtime to lead the Wildcats to a 2-1 win over Lower Dauphin on Tuesday at the Northside Soccer Pitch.
Trailing 1-0 with just about six minutes left in regulation, Wildcat keeper Brandon Diehl fielded a cross and laid the ball off to Joe Lewis just outside the penalty box. Finding some open space, Lewis dribbled the ball up the field, cut around one defender and ripped a laser into the net for the tying goal which seemed to spark the Wildcats.
The Cats (10-3, 8-2 Keystone) had two opportunities in the final three minutes, but a corner and two headers by Zach Brunner didn’t find the mark, sending the contest into overtime.
Lower Dauphin (9-3, 8-2) controlled the first minute of overtime but couldn’t get a shot on goal. The Wildcats took possession and started up the field and Jo Panuccio lifted a through ball over the top that Zach Sherman ran onto and somehow slipped the ball into the near corner for the game-winner. It was Sherman’s 13th goal of the season.
“This was a great effort and a big win for us,” Sherman said. “They are a very good team and we knew it was going to be a battle. We had to battle from behind and focus on that first goal by Lewis and then try to get that finish. Jo played a great through ball over the top, and I was able to run onto it and slip it past their keeper. It was a huge goal for us and I will remember this one for a long time.”
The Wildcats controlled the ball early in the game and had several opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net. Falcon keeper Isaiah Pettis made two super saves — one on Sherman and another on a blast by Brad Powell. He came sliding out to take a shot off the foot of Panuccio as he ran onto a dish by Lewis.
Lower Dauphin had several chances late in the first half but the height of Brunner and the toughness of Reed Alioth and Mike Fowler, who took shots off their bodies, kept the contest scoreless.
Early in the second half, J.T. Donnelly slid an angular through ball to the foot of Colten Nagy, whose rip sailed past Diehl. The score came just three minutes into the second half.
The game went back and forth over the next 30 minutes but neither could dent the net.
“I thought we played very well in the first half and then gave up that goal,” Wildcat skipper Tony Lougee said. “I thought we didn’t play with the same intensity over about a 20- or 25-minute period of the second half. Joe Lewis just doesn’t quit and he made that play and then I felt the intensity come back. Panuccio played a nice ball and Zach finished it. It was good win for us.”
“I thought it was a very good game on both sides,” Falcon coach Gerry Lynch said. “We both had chances, but they were able to get the finish. You have to worry about their speed and that got us in the end. We just have to focus on each game and get the results we need the rest of the season.”
Ryan Wolf and Brad Powell created problems for the Falcons by being able to beat their outside defenders to the corner and send crosses into the box.
For the Falcons, Nick Sincavage, Donnelly and Luis Cervantes created problems for the Wildcat defense. Kevin Mondi battled hard against Wolf on the wing.
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QUICK HIT: Lower Dauphin made it look so easy Friday night it was almost scary. The undefeated Falcons ran over a listless Mechanicsburg side by rolling up nearly 400 yards on the ground in a 35-0 Mid-Penn Keystone victory Friday night in front of a packed house at John H. Frederick Field.
KEY MOMENT: The first series of the game for the Falcons offensively. Seriously, once each team had one offensive series under its belt reading the tea leaves wasn’t difficult. The Falcons knew exactly what they wanted to do. Mechanicsburg looked uninspired. Lower Dauphin (5-0, 2-0) quarterback Troy Spencer set the table for a monster night by carrying eight times for 67 yards on the Falcons’ opening drive, including a 4-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0. Spencer was far from done, though.
STARS AND STUDS: Spencer ran the Falcons’ veer offense like a surgeon. The senior amassed 287 rushing yards on 27 carries with three touchdowns.
*The Lower Dauphin defense recorded its fourth shutout in five games, limiting the wide-open offense of the Wildcats to only 20 rushing yards and 159 total yards.
*The Falcons’ offensive line of J.R. Borelli, Quentin Horting, David Wuestner, Omi Ramos and Corey Atkins – plus 6-5, 260-pound tight end Trey Klock - simply dominated up front. It was a huge mismatch all night.
NUMBERS GAME: By halftime it was 21-0 and the story was almost complete except for the final chapter. Lower Dauphin had 236 total yards to only 71 for The Wildcats. And the Falcons ran only six more plays from scrimmage than Mechanicsburg (3-2, 0-2). Lower Dauphin finished with 412 yards of total offense.
BIG PICTURE: Lower Dauphin’s offense is blissfully simple with an emphasis on execution. What was good to see from head coach Rob Klock on this night was very little tinkering. Until Mechanicsburg stopped what was working – it never did – Klock saw no need to open the playbook. Page 1 was good enough. So he stayed there. Mechanicsburg put up a good effort last week against Bishop McDevitt. Yes, the Wildcats lost the game but they kept after it. Friday night the Wildcats went away … and quietly. You can get beat soundly. But to go down without throwing a real punch back is something that needs addressed going forward.
WHAT THEY SAID: “Lower Dauphin is a physical team that comes right at you. And we couldn’t stop them. What they do, they do extremely well.” – Mechanicsburg coach Chris Hakel
RAPID REACTION: One team showed up ready to win its fifth football game in a row. The other squad just showed up.
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PALMYRA – Consistency has plagued Palmyra for most of the 2013 girls’ soccer season. The Cougars’ roller-coaster campaign continued Tuesday evening.
Palmyra’s playoff hopes took a major blow with a 2-0 loss to Mechanicsburg under the lights Tuesday night at In The Net Sports Complex.
The Cougars never got to show their claws against the Wildcats, who have won three straight and seven of the last eight meetings between the Mid-Penn Conference Keystone Division rivals. Mechanicsburg’s Megan Mansfield and Meghan Ross scored goals, and goalkeeper Kyle Peters made four saves to register the shutout.
The loss leaves Palmyra two games out of third place in the Keystone Division and on the outside of the District Three Class AA playoff picture. The orange and black (5-6 overall and 3-4 in the Keystone) entered the week ranked No. 17 in the most recent district rankings. Only the top 16 teams qualify for the postseason.
“We definitely needed this win in league play,” said Cougars head coach Amber Miller. “We’re still going to try to perform the best we can the rest of the season to have the best possible outcome. But we got to finish strong.”
Despite beating Donegal 3-0 on Monday, Palmyra started slow Tuesday by allowing the Wildcats to take the lead 7:11 into action. Challenged by Cougar keeper Katy McClellan on the left side of the box, Ross slipped a centering pass to Mansfield, unmarked in the middle. The sophomore forward deposited the setup far post for a 1-0 advantage.
“(Mechanicsburg) definitely moves off the ball,” added Miller. “And they wanted it more tonight.”
The visitors outshot the hosts by a 9-4 margin. Kristen Smoluk launched a 50-yard volley, and Shawna Kleinfelter uncorked a tough angle grounder for Palmyra’s only two shots on goal in the first 40 minutes. Angelica Kays generated both second-half chances, including a near goal on a left-footed blast in the 55th minute.
“Kylie was just a stone there on that save,” said Mechanicsburg
coach Sean Cochran. “It’s one of those things that if Kylie can make that one big save, we feel like we can stay in most games. She’s one of the best keepers in this league.”
Parks denied Kays with a diving save to preserve the clean sheet. The Wildcats then removed any doubts in the 76th minute on Ross’ tally, which involved a pair of juke moves around a defender and another far-post putaway.
“We played tough defensively,” added Cochran. “Really, the best thing to do against Palmyra is just to keep the ball away from them. Try to keep possession and keep it away from (Maddie) Good, because if she gets the ball, she’s dangerous.”
Good, the only senior on Palmyra’s roster, was neutralized by midfielder Emma Strong for most of the match. Strong, a 6-foot freshman, countered Good’s physical play with speed, agility and lanky legs.
“Palmyra’s a very, very good team. Maddie Good’s been lighting us up for years,” Cochran said. “Emma’s actually a freshman, and her ceiling is just through the roof. She’s tall, and she’s really starting to come into her own. She’s stepped in pretty much from Game 1, and she’s been awesome throughout the season.”
The Wildcats conquered the Cougars 1-0 to open the 2013 campaign. Mechanicsburg has outscored Palmyra 31-7 overall in their past eight meetings.
Tuesday’s goals did not come easy, however. McClellan, who stopped seven shots, and defenders Emily Salvaggio and Tabitha Fake all turned in solid efforts in defeat.
definitely some girls that had outstanding performances tonight,” said Miller, who led Palmyra to the district quarterfinals in her first season behind the bench last year. “They always give 100 percent, and they give their best game. It’s just finding ways to get those girls more involved so we can have a successful game.
“Salvaggio played a phenomenal game tonight, along with Tabitha Fake in the back. (Fake’s) coming up big for us lately wherever we’re putting her on the field. She’s playing really well.”
The Cougars try to bounce back Thursday at 4 p.m. when they travel to Susquehanna Township.
Article by Brett Keener, The Sentinel
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MECHANICSBURG — Jacob Huffman had watched his Mechanicsburg soccer squad suffer through a second half of near-misses Tuesday night.
Just high. Barely wide. Off the post. Off the crossbar. With nearly every shot the Wildcats had come close, but they couldn’t quite get the goal that would break a second-half tie with Palmyra. So when Huffman got his opportunity with a little more than 10 minutes to play in regulation, he knew he needed to finally cash in.
Huffman was able to deliver off a nifty feed from Jo Panuccio, and his goal helped boost the Wildcats to a 4-3 victory over the Cougars in a critical Mid-Penn Keystone matchup at Northside Elementary. The victory kept the Wildcats one game back in the loss column from division leaders Hershey and Lower Dauphin.
“I felt like I had to get it in the net,” Huffman said. “It was do or die for our team. We had worked so hard to get that goal. We needed one bad.”
Acting Mechanicsburg head coach Dilwyn Knott wasn’t sweating the long drought prior to Huffman’s tiebreaker, which gave the Wildcats a 3-2 lead.
“We were still feeling confident,” Knott said. “We talk about keeping the chances coming. If you get your head down because you just missed three in a row, you’ll miss three more in a row. You just get the next one. We live that way every game, I think.”
Mechanicsburg (8-3. 6-2 Keystone) added an insurance goal with 1:49 remaining, when Zac Sherman punched in his second score of the game to make it 4-2. It turned out to be the game-winner, as Palmyra responded 30 seconds later with a Tyler Cypher goal. The Wildcats weathered the final 79 seconds unharmed though.
The Mechanicsburg-dominated second half had a different tempo than the wide-open first half, when whistles were few and open space was plentiful. The offense started quickly, with Palmyra’s Robby Hanosek pocketing a goal with less than eight minutes gone to give the Cougars a 1-0 advantage.
Mechanicsburg got the equalizer less than six minutes later, when Ryan Wolf picked up a rebound of a blocked shot in front of the Palmyra net and drilled it home. Palmyra (6-4, 5-3) regained the lead with 14:21 remaining when Griffen Mitchell made a subtle redirect on Hanosek’s feed.
The Wildcats picked up a huge goal in the final minute of the first half. Casey Conner made a takeaway in the Palmyra end and delivered a beautiful cross to Sherman, who headed it in to knot the game at 2-2 heading into the break.
“Goals before the break and right after the break are always key to the momentum,” Knott said. “It was one of those you hope you can ride, and we did. It was good team play all around, but Casey made a great effort on that one.”
The goal did indeed boost the Wildcats, who controlled virtually every aspect of the second half — second-half shots were 13-to-1 in favor of Mechanicsburg. The effort culminated in Huffman’s goal, which came when Panuccio chased down a ball just before it reached the end line. He then threaded a pass across the crease to the streaking Huffman.
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MECHANICSBURG — Mechanicsburg got an early goal from Zach Sherman and made it stand up to garner the championship of the Mechanicsburg Soccer Booster Club Tournament as they edged Carlisle 3-0 at the Northside Soccer Pitch Saturday night.
The two teams won earlier games as the Wildcats shut out Trinity 2-0 and Carlisle beat a solid Dallastown 11 by a score of 2-1.
The championship game was an end to end affair as both teams quickly countered against the other, creating dangerous chances that forced defenses and goal keepers to come up with key saves. For the Wildcats, that meant sophomore Brandon Diehl was put on the spot, and he came up big. He made several key saves in the second half as the Herd started to push forward numbers in an effort to get back into the contest.
Mechanicsburg (2-0) got a good start with a lot of energy as they pounded Carlisle into defending three corner kicks within the first five minutes. In the eighth minute, Joe Panuccio sent Joe Lewis in and his rip was deflected by Herd keeper Christian Pavlovich, but it rolled right to Sherman, who nailed the finish into the net.
Panuccio and Mike Fowler had later chances for the ‘Cats but Pavlovich made a save and tipped the other one over the crossbar. The Wildcats had eight corners and five shots in the opening half. A defensive clear from the Herd found Panuccio, who sent a volley in from about 35 yards out. It sailed over Pavlovich and under the crossbar for a second goal.
The Herd started to move the ball forward and Hunter Scott forced Diehl to come up with a key save late in the half to keep the shutout going.
Carlisle (1-1) came out on fire in the second half and garnered five corner kicks within the first five minutes. Although they didn’t score, the Herd put some pressure on the Wildcat defense.
Matt Levy, Colin Wallace, Zach Mitchiner, and Martin Riggins were the key Herd players putting the pressure on the Wildcats. Diehl came up with three big time saves. He was able to knock down all three shots and fall on them not allowing any attempt to put in a rebound.
The Wildcat defense, led by Zach Brunner and capably flanked by Reed Alioth, Fowler and Casey Connor, bent a lot the second half but never broke and continued the shut out.
The most entertaining battle of the night was between Ryan Wolf of Mechanicsburg and Sid Ewell of Carlisle in the middle of the field. Both are downright tenacious, quick and fearless and they battled every time either went after the ball.
“I am sore tonight,” Wolf said. “Sid is a great defender and he makes you pay any time you touch the ball. He is a great challenge to play against.”
“I thought we were a little flat this morning and then we came out here and played a great first half,” Wildcats coach Tony Lougee said. “I really thought Carlisle really came out and played a very good second half. Our defense kind of stretched but they seemed to keep it together. Brandon (Diehl) was in the right spot all evening and made some huge saves.”
Wolf added the final goal as the quick beat the Herd defense to a rebound shot by Sherman and knocked it onto the net for the final goal in the last six minutes.
“When you don’t score, you can’t win,” Herd coach Brandon Eiserman said. “We really came out in the second half but their keeper made some big saves. We gave up an early goal on a rebound and then the floater and the final rebound when we were pushed forward. We were able to get a win earlier and I certainly wasn’t disappointed in our play. We just didn’t finish. We created the chances but didn’t finish. They are big and fast.”
Mechanicsburg 3, Trinity 1
Zach Sherman, Jo Panuccio and Ryan Wolf scored in the same order during Game 1 to defeat Trinity 3-1. David Bricker scored the lone Shamrock goal off a penalty kick.