BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – If you think about it, the Elco and Cedar Crest boys’ soccer teams aren’t all that different. Both are struggling to get back to once-proud levels of competition.
And as they do, each is a pretty good measuring of the other’s progress.
On a clear Saturday evening at Ed and Jeannie Arnold field at Earl Boltz Stadium, it appeared that the Falcons have a leg up on the Raiders, as evidenced by Cedar Crest’s 3-1 victory, in the 33rd annual Ritter-Hoffman Cup contest. Ultimately, the difference in the rivalry match, were Cedar Crest goals early in each half.
Three different Falcons – Gerik Urban, Jonas Funk and Nick Bensing – found the back of the net. Cedar Crest out shot Elco by a 15-3 margin.
Cedar Crest has now won the last three Ritter-Hoffman Cup games and leads the all-time series 17-15-1. But perhaps just as important is the fact that the triumph was the Falcons’ first of the season, against three setbacks.
The result made Elco 1-4 on the year.
“We have a lot of underclassmen and I’m not sure everyone understands the rivalry,” said Cedar Crest head coach Travis Bensing. “What we talked about yesterday is bringing the county together for the love of soccer. This was the biggest crowd they’re going to see all year.
“Give Elco credit,” continued Bensing. “They played hard. Neither season is going the way we wanted it to, but it was a great battle. It’s great for Lebanon County and it’s great for local soccer.”
“We didn’t have the cup back when I played,” said Elco head coach Kirk Keppley. “But those were the two biggest games of the year for us. This might’ve been just another game, because we’re so young.
“It’s one of those years where we’re getting a lot of guys a lot of experience,” said Keppley. “We’re starting two seniors. Hopefully we don’t have a lot of games like this. But maybe we can build on this.”
The Falcons wasted little time putting Elco behind the eight ball.