BY JEFF FALK
DENVER – It was an upset. It was well conceived, well executed and well played. And it will always be measured as much for its historical significance as its drama.
It was bigger than big. But just how huge? Perhaps, the biggest.
On a windy Saturday morning, on the turf of Cocalico’s High School’s Talon Field, the Annville-Cleona boys’ soccer team scored a triumph for the ages. The Little Dutchmen stunned unbeaten Elizabethtown 2-1, in a quarterfinal game of the Lancaster-Lebanon League postseason.
Junior Eli Setlock notched the winning goal, with 2:25 left in the match. But Setlock’s tally was as much a testament to the Little Dutchmen’s budding confidence as it was to his prowess around the goal mouth.
The win was Annville-Cleona’s first ever in the league tournament and pushed the Section Three runner-up to 16-3 overall. The next test of the Little Dutchmen’s character will come on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Manheim Township, opposite Section One champion Conestoga Valley.
The setback was the first of the fall for Elizabethtown, now 15-1-2.
The Little Dutchmen will also compete in the upcoming District Three Class AA playoffs, as the seventh seed. But first things first.
“It is our biggest win ever,” said veteran Annville-Cleona head coach Ray Kreiser. “Playing an undefeated team at a neutral site, it’s absolutely huge. Whenever you’re playing a Class AAA team, it’s automatically a step up. And they’re (the Bears) one of the top AAA teams in the district.
“Yes, it was an upset. Without a doubt,” continued Kreiser. “No ifs, ands or buts about it. Elizabethtown is a great team. They gave us everything we could handle.”
Setlock’s decisive tally originated from the top of the box, and was the result of some nifty Little Dutchmen passing from in close. With a quick flick, teammate Javier Gonzalez located an open Setlock, who used his right foot to finish, under a diving attempt by the E-town goalkeeper.
“We made some nice passes in the box,” said Kreiser. “I saw Eli turn, and the defender froze, and he hit it. We were trying to make that one extra pass. But I tell the guys, ‘Sometimes we’ve just got to put it on goal.’
“It is shear emotion and joy,” Kreiser added. “I don’t even know how to describe it right now. To beat a team that’s AAA and undefeated makes it more special. Today, they (his players) really showed it. They played with a lot of heart. This will go a long way. This is really huge.”
Following a scoreless first half, the Little Dutchmen struck first, 11:18 into the second stanza.
Senior leader Matt Light, who had controlled the flow of play with his throws and restarts, initiated the play with a set piece, from 25 yards out. Light served a nice pass to the left goal post, where Gonzalez elevated and knocked a header into the far corner of the net.
“That was spectacular,” said Kreiser. “He (Gonzalez) has about eight goals off headers. He’s something in the air. He can do just about anything he wants in the air.
“I think we can play better,” added Kreiser. “The wind was a factor, especially in the second half. In the first half, we were bunkered in. That’s why I changed our alignment. That was our goal – give them (the Bears) the wind in the first half and hold on. What you make out of those opportunities is going to be the difference in the game. But I was glad to see our guys didn’t drop their heads when they (the Bears) scored.”
Elizabethtown’s goal was a decisive response to Gonzalez’s, and came a mere 4:02 after it. Off a 40-yard restart, the ball was misplayed by the Little Dutchmen goalie, and Bear Reed Rummel was there to pounce on the rebound.
“I don’t want to say they doubted themselves,” said Kreiser of his troops. “But when you go from Section Three to Section Two, there’s a little doubt whether you can play with their guys. I told our players, ‘Right now, you’ve got to believe’. I figured we were going to get one or two opportunities, and we cashed in on two of them. Our defense is playing well enough.
“Our biggest thing was to get some experience playing in tight, tough games,” continued Kreiser. “It was a tight, emotional game. I said to our guys, “If you give up a goal, you can’t hang your heads. You’ve got to fight back’. It’s what I call getting game experience. We have a bunch of young kids who don’t know what the playoffs are about.”
With the wind at their backs, the Bears enjoyed the better of the play in the first half. But while Elizabethtown generated more chances than Annville-Cleona, it didn’t create a lot of dangerous ones.
The Little Dutchmen didn’t registered their first shot until 2:48 of the second half had elapsed. But in the final tally, Annville-Cleona out shot the Bears 10-9.
“It is what it is,” said Kreiser. “Our approach was: ‘We’re going to come in, give it our best shot, and if we lose, we lose. If we win, it’s our biggest win ever.’ The object was: ‘Let’s stay level headed. We’re going to play our game. If it’s good enough, it’s good enough.’
“Annville-Cleona wins! Annville-Cleona wins! Annville-Cleona wins!,” concluded Kreiser.
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Section Three Standings
2015 Annville-Cleona Results
|4:00 PM||W 5-2|
|7:00 PM||W 1-0|
|4:00 PM||L 2-3|
@Lancaster County Christian
|10:00 AM||W 4-1|
|4:00 PM||W 8-1|
|4:00 PM||W 7-0|
York Country Day
|4:00 PM||W 8-0|
|10:00 AM||W 5-0|
|4:00 PM||L 0-3|
|7:00 PM||W 9-0|
|7:00 PM||W 4-3|
|4:00 PM||L 0-5|
|4:00 PM||W 8-1|
|4:00 PM||W 4-0|
|7:00 PM||W 4-2|
|7:00 PM||W 2-1|
|5:30 PM||W 6-0|
West Shore Christian
|7:00 PM||W 2-1|
|10:30 AM||W 2-1|
|5:30 PM||Manheim Twp. High School|
Class AA Power Rankings