Soccer semifinalists seek payback

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
BY MICHAEL BULLOCK

For The Patriot-News

Seeking an appropriate theme for the semifinals of the District 3 boys’ soccer tournament?

Payback certainly fits.

Considering four semis are rematches of games that took place a season ago, avenging 2006 setbacks will be on plenty of minds. Tack on a fifth semi featuring two teams that scrapped earlier this season and a prevailing thought stretches further.

Only the Class AA match at Manheim Central High School (5:30) between top-seeded Palmyra (19-3) and No. 5 Susquehannock (15-3-2) carries no historical storyline.

Remember: All four 3-AA survivors have qualified for next week’s state tournament. Only the top three in AAA and A advance.

Hershey (16-5) vs. Manheim Central (20-2) at Susquehanna Twp. H.S. (7:30) is a rematch of last year’s Class AA final, captured 2-1 in overtime by the Barons.

A strong effort by Central’s defensive backfield helped the Barons tame Elco 3-0 in Saturday’s quarters. How that group contends with the Trojans tandem of Kyle Patrick (33 goals, 9 assists) and Mike Kozak (13g, 32a) will be one key.

Red Land (19-1-2) vs. Mechanicsburg (16-5-2) at Hersheypark Stadium (7:30). These teams collided in the 2006 round-of-16, with the Wildcats posting a 4-0 success. Mechanicsburg All-American Bobby Warshaw had three goals in last year’s scrap, but he’s now a Stanford freshman.

Still, perpetual threat Gaetano Panuccio (22g, 7a) netted three scores in Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win over Cumberland Valley.

Deon Rehm (21g, 15a), Mid-Penn player of the year Jordan Torres (13g, 10), Tyler Fettrow (12g, 11a), Michael Urich (12g, 4a) and Alex Mendoza (7g, 6a) fuel unselfish Red Land, unbeaten in its last 19 and unscored upon in its last four.

Central Dauphin (16-5-1) vs. Manheim Twp. (21-2-1) at Hersheypark Stadium (5:30). These perennially powerful sides met on opening night, with CD falling 2-1 to the three-time defending 3-AAA champs at Cumberland Valley.

Turbo-charged Rams striker Braden Gross (17g, 6a) can cause myriad problems. Plus, CD’s backfield of Justin Garner, Steven Gartner, Lucas Starsinic and Harry Snyder must remain patient against a possession-minded group with an assortment of attacking types.

Camp Hill (16-5) vs. Reading Holy Name (12-6-1) at Manheim Central H.S. (7:30) is a rematch of a 2006 Class A quarterfinal claimed in penalty kicks (8-7) by the Blue Jays.

Though junior heavy, the Lions still feature plenty of players with long memories. Camp Hill’s Ian Nisley (21g, 4a) was Mid-Penn Capital player of the year, but Neil Gallagher (10g, 7a), Nick Kline (6g, 7a) and Josh Hoy (11g, 8a) are capable finishers, too.

Halifax (21-1) vs. Antietam (15-6) at Susquehanna Twp. H.S. (5:30). Last season, Halifax dropped a 3-1 decision to Antietam’s Mounts. Late scores from Corey Hertzog and Jammie Smith decided it.

Hertzog, whose second-half score Saturday finished Trinity 1-0, continues to wreak havoc. Reigning Tri-Valley League most valuable player Brad Kerstetter (22g, 16a), who pocketed both goals in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Biglerville, catalyzes the Wildcats.

MICHAEL BULLOCK: 255-8124 or mbullock@patriot-news.com

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