On the first real chilly Friday night of the fall season, fans in Bernville were treated to a tight defensive battle between two teams looking to improve their district playoff standings.
Elco came in at 5-4 on the season, having won four of its last six outings, while Tuplehocken entered at 5-2-1 overall. When the dust had settled, it was the homestanding Trojans who emerged victorious with a 1-0 double-overtime triumph.
Although Tulpehocken dominated the scoring chances for the night and shots on goal, both teams controlled the ball evenly throughout the night, with speedy Tulpehocken getting the more explosive and eye-catching chances. But Elco controlling slightly more of the ball with passing and physicality.
Tulpehocken had numerous shots on goal in the first half, while Elco’s only serious chances of the game were a header from senior sweeper Rheece Shuey that went over the crossbar, a David Plasterer half bicycle kick, and a free kick from the 18 by Camden Marquette off a dribble through take-down on Dallas George. ELCO dominated the corner kick battle getting more than eight to Tulpehocken’s two.
Tulpehocken kept up the attack throughout the second half and into overtime, but ELCO was up to the challenge, led by defenders Landen Gettle, Kody Boyer and Logan Kless. Leader of the defense, Shuey, was everywhere throughout the night, attacking through Tulpehocken players, and getting almost every free head ball there was to get. All-league junior goalie Chandler Ehrhart was up to the challenge as well, saving double-digit shots on goal.
Just when it seemed as though this game was destined to end in a scoreless tie, Tulpehocken scored a goal in the 2nd overtime session at the 6-minute mark after a scrum inside the 18 left a man open to slide one by Ehrhart, and into the corner of the net.
It was a fantastic effort by both teams, in front of a loud and crowded stadium. Both potential playoff teams showed very well and will hope to take this and learn from it.
“Tonight was a big step in the right direction, the score didn’t end our way…but the heart of the team was unmatched,” said Shuey. “We have to keep connecting the pieces, learn from this, and know that we can beat anyone we step onto the field with.”
Starting only three seniors – Shuey, Vlad Dribnokhod and Ashton Faust – the young Raiders were also bolstered by a strong midfield on the night. Marquette, Faust, George, Nick Miller, Ben Stohler, Luke Macchione, Elijah Kiene and Thayne Kahl all played strong in the middle, while Kahl stood out early for the Raiders attacking up the right side and creating several chances. The defense was also bolstered by an experienced bench of Caden Baer and Aiden Wright.
The Raiders also played without their starting left midfielder Ashton Beck, out with injury.
With the result, Tulpehocken solidified its number-two seed in the District Three Class A power rankings playoff bracket. For Elco and first-year head coach Jamie Cascarino, the squad now heads into their last eight games looking to build off this performance and create momentum for a late-season playoff push towards the District Three Class AAA playoffs where they currently sit as the number 18 seed, with 16 teams making the final bracket.
“The team made three goals before the year, and one was to make the postseason district playoffs,” said Shuey. “Our record hasn’t been good the last couple of seasons, but we wanted to turn things around this year. So far, we’ve shown what we can do on the field, and we need to keep taking it one game at a time.”