For quite a while, it seemed as though Brandon Eiserman’s scrappy, young Carlisle Thundering Herd soccer squad was going to pull off the upset over the favored Mechanicsburg Wildcats.
With a win in Saturday’s championship game, Carlisle would have won the Mechanicsburg Booster Club Tournament for the third consecutive year.
Unfortunately for the Herd, Mechanicsburg senior Austin Martz wasn’t about to let that happen.
Martz was the big star of the evening, scoring the equalizer in the second half and posting the game-winner in double overtime in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Carlisle.
Martz scored four goals on the Saturday: two against Carlisle in the championship game and two against Camp Hill in the preliminary contest.
“It feels great to take this tournament back,” Martz said. “A lot of guys count on me to score, but there are a lot of guys on this team who can finish just as well as me.”
Mechanicsburg (2-0) seemed to have the game under control in the first half, possessing the ball very well and spending much of the half camped out in Carlisle territory.
But the Thundering Herd (1-1), behind a resilient effort from keeper Brad Spangler (10 saves), kept the game scoreless and took the lead in the final minute of the half on a goal from Jared Loose, who scored on the rebound of a hard shot from forward/goalkeeper Brice Merwine.
“This is Brad’s first year of varsity, he played a great game,” Eiserman said. “He made some big saves in key moments to keep us in the game.”
Time ticked away in the second half, with Herd fans counting down the minutes until victory.
Enter Martz. The senior emerged from traffic midway through the second half, blasting a mid-distance ground ball from right to left to beat Spangler and tie the game, 1-1.
From that point on, it was a dogfight.
After nearly 30 minutes of close calls, nice-looking set plays and beautiful goalkeeper saves, Martz closed the game in double overtime.
His shot, nearly identical to his first shot, rolled to the back of the Carlisle cage for the sudden-death game-winner with 8:34 remaining to play.
“Martz always finds opportunities, he’s an explosive player,” Wildcats coach Tony Lougee said. “He’s come into his own and he makes a lot of things happen.”
Lougee and Martz said their team is working to get better every time on the field and intend to take it one game at a time.
As for Carlisle, Eiserman is very encouraged by what he saw on Saturday.
“Mechanicsburg is a great team. For us to compete with them is a huge confidence booster,” Eiserman said. “It was a great game tonight. I love this tournament.”
Notes: Members of the All-Tournament Team were Mechanicsburg’s Martz, Sean Swidersky, Matt Steele and Erik Hanson, Carlisle’s Ryan Ackley, Jared Ashworth, Eddie Metzger and Spangler, Camp Hill’s Colin Hester, Ryan Polly, Joe Gallagher and Chad Weiss and Trinity’s Zach Herstek, Derek Pawlush, Erik Foster and Matt Janton.
Article by Andy Sandrik of Cumberlink.com
Photos by Curt Werner/Special to the Sentinel