BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – The Elco and Lancaster Mennonite boys’ soccer teams have been so brilliant this season that they have cast a long shadow. But just because Annville-Cleona isn’t the best team doesn’t mean the Little Dutchmen aren’t a good team.
On Monday evening, Annville-Cleona’s solid campaign was further clouded in obscurity by its 3-0 home loss to Lancaster Mennonite. The Blazers netted three goals in the first 25 minutes of the opening half, then threw a blanket of marking over the Little Dutchmen the rest of the way.
The shutout loss was Annville-Cleona’s second of the season to a Lancaster Mennonite outfit which has surrendered only a handful of goals all year. Yet despite those setbacks, the Little Dutchmen are still a very respectable 10-6 overall and 8-5 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.
The Little Dutchmen were seated tenth in the latest District Three Class AA power rankings.
With the result, Lancaster Mennonite, which defeated Annville-Cleona 6-0 on September 20th, improved to 15-1-2 on the season and 10-0-2 in the section. In those same Class AA power rankings, the Blazers were rated second.
“The way it played out, we really came on strong during the second part of the year,” said Annville-Cleona’s veteran head coach, Ray Kreiser. “Besides the Mennonite games, we’ve been in every single game. In the first half of the season, we lost four games, but there were in overtime. In the second half, this is our first loss. We have been getting better. Now we’re a little nicked up, but it’s that time of the year.
“Elco’s the one I don’t think has played its best game of the year yet,” continued Kreiser. “Those two (the Raiders and Blazers) are by far the class of the section. I said at the beginning of the season that the section was a matter of if Elco could break their (the Blazers’) win streak. It pretty much played out the way I expected. Mennonite just doesn’t have a weak link. They don’t have one spot you can focus in on and take advantage of.”
The flow of the game may not have been accurately reflected by Lancaster Mennonite’s 10-6 advantage in shots and its 5-1 advantage in corner kicks. The Little Dutchmen experienced difficulties possessing the ball and sustaining attack in the Blazer zone.
Down 3-0 late in the first half, the Little Dutchmen’s best scoring chance came on a direct kick just inside midfield. But an Annville-Cleona attacker’s header attempt was just wide.
With three minutes remaining the Little Dutchmen earned an indirect kick at the top of the Blazer box. But A-C failed to manage Lancaster Mennonite’s heavily-fortified wall.
“We had a couple of chances,” said Keriser. “But our best shot was a shot we didn’t take. We had at least a few chances, which was a whole lot more than we had the first time we played them.
“We just always seem to have bad luck against Mennonite,” added Kreiser. “If there’s a bad bounce, it goes against us. Part of it’s mental. We’ll bounce back. With the exception of Mennonite, every single game has been a barn burner. That’s the way it bounces sometimes. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger, and we’re not dead yet.”
The Blazers needed just 1:52 of the contest to tickle the twines.
Off Lancaster Mennonite’s first corner of the game, the Little Dutchmen failed to clear a dangerous ball. And after it pin balled around in front of the Annville-Cleona goal, Blazer Dylan Campbell managed to slide the ball to teammate Matthew Lynch, who banged it home from point-blank range.
“Two of the goals were mistakes by us,” said Kreiser. “We were trying to push too much and made mistakes. At halftime, the shots were even, but we weren’t able to find the back of the net. I think they’ve (the Blazers) given up three goals all year, so they have a tough defense. We knew what we were up against. We had to play a little more aggressive today.
“They (the Blazers) played typical Mennonite soccer,” Kreiser added. “They moved the ball well. It is what it is. They played well enough to win the game. I don’t think they played spectacular. They played a solid game.”
Lancaster Mennonite’s second goal, which came 12 minutes later, was the result of some nice tick-tack-toe passing.
At the end of those good ‘looks’ was Blazer forward Udit Jain, on the left goal post of the Little Dutchmen net. Jain used his right foot to knock the ball past Annville-Cleona keeper Koy Alwine.
“Really, it didn’t,” said Kreiser, when asked if the scoreboard changed his side’s approach. “We wanted to pressure them, no matter what the scored was. We wanted to get them out of their comfort zone. If you sit back, they’re going to pick you apart.
“We had to play like it was zero-zero,” Kreiser continued. “I don’t care what the score is, you’ve got to pressure them. There were a couple of times when they made four or five passes, and then the ball went out of bounds.”
Lancaster Mennonite made it 3-0 with 15 minutes to go before halftime.
It originated from a deep ball played into the Little Dutchmen zone. Annville-Cleona misplayed the clearing attempt and the opportunistic Lynch was there to boot it into the net.
“We’re on a massive bubble,” said Kreiser of the Little Dutchmen’s district playoff prospects. “We’re probably going to make it by a hundredth of a point or not make it by a hundredth of a point. Right now, it’s literally going to come down to our last game. We need to do what we can control. Then we’ve got to sit back and see what happens.”
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2016 Annville-Cleona Boys’ Soccer Results
@Lancaster Country Day
|4:00 PM||W 1-0|
@West Shore Christian
|4:45 PM||W 6-0|
|7:00 PM||W 4-1|
|4:00 PM||L 1-2|
|4:00 PM||L 1-2|
|7:00 PM||W 4-2|
|10:00 AM||W 8-1|
|7:00 PM||L 0-6|
|7:00 PM||L 1-2|
|5:30 PM||W 3-2|
|4:00 PM||W 2-1|
|4:00 PM||W 2-0|
|7:00 PM||W 1-0|
|4:00 PM||W 7-1|
|4:00 PM||L 0-3|
|7:00 PM||Annville-Cleona High School|
Lancaster County Christian
|4:00 PM||Annville-Cleona High School|
PIAA District Three
Class AA Power Rankings
|4||Eastern Lebanon County||12-||2-||2||0.651031||0.801282||0.467391|
Section Three Standings