Panuccio heeds advice

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
BY MICHAEL BULLOCK

For The Patriot-News

Engaged in light chatter just before the second overtime session kicked off, Gaetano Panuccio listened intently to Mechanicsburg assistant coach Bill Edwards’ lively spiel before a wide grin creased his face right before the whistle sounded.

While their impromptu chat had everything to do with a second-half breakaway that the prolific Panuccio could not polish off, Edwards hoped to perk up the prolific Wildcats senior with a “You owe me one. Now get me one.”

Two minutes later, that one arrived.

Panuccio’s goal with 1:57 gone in the second overtime, his second of the game, handed Mechanicsburg a 2-1 victory over Gettysburg in a lively Mid-Penn Keystone Division boys’ soccer match Tuesday night at Mechanicsburg’s chilly Northside Cage.

Bryce Shaffer netted the lone score for Gettysburg (5-3, 3-3). His 25-yard blast whistled inside the left post with just 14:19 gone, handing the hard-working Warriors a 1-0 advantage not long before the sun began to fade. One Panuccio & Co. wouldn’t let stand.

Panuccio pulled the Wildcats (6-2-1, 4-1-1) even with just 3:01 gone in the second half when he flagged down a John Arnold serve about 25 yards out, slipped around hard-charging keeper Ben Szoke (5 saves) and slid a firm shot into the vacated net.

“I thought we played pretty well,” said Gettysburg’s Chad Wright, whose club was denied a second goal when Wildcats goalkeeper Sam Burkholder (5 saves) made a diving save to rob Evan Mudd.

“When we gave up the goal, there was a slight momentum shift and it began to build.”

Nearly 15 minutes later, Panuccio had an opportunity to pop Mechanicsburg in front when he hustled on to a Chris White ball that put him behind three pursuing Warriors defenders. Instead of driving deeper, Panuccio unloaded a shot that Szoke’s right hand deadened and Colin Byrne cleared.

Though both teams had several chances to finish off the other, neither team could convert. Mechanicsburg was particularly aggressive in the first OT, but Szoke denied Shane Jordan and Andrew Bohn. Panuccio also nodded a shot off the frame.

Enter Edwards.

“I just had to get my mind-set down,” said Panuccio, who has scored 12 goals. “Just listen to my coaches and stay up high. Just do my job, wait and be patient. … He told me, that’s how you scored the first goal, now get me another one.”

Receiving the ball on the right flank, Panuccio wheeled into the corner, then skipped down the end line when several Gettysburg defenders were unable to pin him. When he neared the cage, Panuccio cut to the six, then uncorked a left-footed strike that eluded Szoke.

Gye’s just got to be patient and he’s got to wait for his chances, realize there’s going to be dudes hanging on him … he’s going to get his looks,” Mechanicsburg coach Tony Lougee said. “He certainly scored two great goals; the second one was fantastic.”

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