BY JEFF FALK
PALMYRA – When the Palmyra boys’ soccer team sat down at the beginning of the season to address goals, no direct mention was made of break-downs or let-ups. But that has proven to be a key element of getting the Cougars where they want to go.
It’s called the transient theory of consistency and success.
On a cool Saturday night at In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra endured the kind of result that possesses the power to make or break a season, as they dropped a tough 1-0 non-league decision to visiting Cocalico. The tightly-marked game was contested tooth-and-nail throughout, and was scoreless until the Eagles broke through for the only goal late in the second half.
The outcome dropped Palmyra to 6-4 on the year. The Cougars were coming off one of their best showings of the season, Thursday’s 2-1 triumph at Lower Dauphin.
The Cougars were situated 15th in the latest District Three Class AAAA power rankings.
For Cocalico, the win improved its overall mark to 9-1.
“We’re four-A and that puts in a position where we’ve got to win enough games to get into the big dance,” said Palmyra’s veteran head coach, Jerry Hoffsmith. “It’s still attainable, but we can’t drop any more games. We certainly want to win them all. But they’ve (his players) got to make the decision that that’s what they want to do.
“This team has some goals, and we were working hard to achieve them,” continued Hoffsmith. “Each one of the games we’ve lost has been by one goal, and each one we played down to our competition. We’re a much better team.”
Like most contests between two highly-skilled clubs, last night’s result came down to which could capitalize on its opportunities.
With the game apparently headed the way of a score-less draw, Cocalico was awarded a free kick just inside midfield, with 8;41 remaining. Danny Harrington served a booming ball into the left side of the Palmyra box.
Like he was shot out of a cannon, senior teammate Joe Zimmerman flashed to the ball, and in one quick motion headed it past Palmyra goalie Jordan Smith and inside the far post.
“We’re struggling with free kicks,” said Hoffsmith. “I think that’s goal number four that we’ve given up on free kicks. We’re not going to point any fingers, but we’ve got to mark better. We’ve got to communicate better and make sure everyone’s accounted for. We’ll live and learn.
“That’s what we said at halftime,” Hoffsmith continued. “If we don’t put them (the Eagles) away early, something’s going to happen. It wasn’t a great field play, and we didn’t take care of business.”
With much of the play in the midfield and each side cautiously probing the other’s defenses, an evenly-matched first half spilled over into the second. Palmyra’s best scoring chance came in the game’s opening minutes, but Cocalico keeper Peyton Stetter was equal to the task.
Stetter logged the shutout by making nine saves.
“I think we were playing the ball too direct,” said Hoffsmith. “We need to play to the flanks more. We need to make those diagonal runs. We didn’t find that tonight. It just didn’t come. We just didn’t possess the way we can. We didn’t play balls the way we can.
“Overall, I thought our defense played fairly well,” added Hoffsmith. “They (the Eagles) had a couple of decent players, but not like we saw on Thursday night.”
Palmyra ended up out shooting Cocalico 11-8. The Cougars also held a slight edge in corner kicks, 6-4.
“There was possibly some over-confidence,” said Hoffsmith. “We saw some game tape and didn’t see anything special. But we don’t take any team lightly. They’re high-school boys and they’re learning valuable life lessons.
“This is a great group of kids,” Hoffsmith added. “They work hard. They’re respectful of each other, but they’re high-school boys. Sometimes we play to a lower level. Maybe we got lax as coaches. Hopefully they learn from this and move on.”
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2018 Palmyra Boys’ Soccer Schedule
|6:30 PM||L 1-2|
|6:30 PM||W 5-1|
|7:00 PM||W 6-1|
|10:00 AM||W 3-0|
|7:00 PM||L 2-3|
|7:00 PM||W 2-1|
|6:00 PM||L 0-1|
|4:00 PM||CD East High School|
|10:00 AM||Palmyra High School|
|6:30 PM||Palmyra High School|
|4:00 PM||Mifflin County Middle School|
|3:30 PM||Harrisburg High School|
|7:00 PM||Hershey High School|
|6:30 PM||Palmyra High School|
|6:30 PM||Bishop McDevitt High School|
PIAA District Three
Class AAAA Power Rankings