BY JEFF FALK ANNVILLE – The Elco boys have a long history of success in soccer. Annville-Cleona, not so much.
That the Raiders and Little Dutchmen aren’t particulary fond of one another is really no secret. One can draw his or her own conclusions as to the reasons why.
On Thursday afternoon, Elco nudged Annville-Cleona 2-1 in a Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three-Four crossover match that was emotional, physical and down right chippy. The Raiders notched the game-winner early in the second half, literally seconds after the Little Dutchmen had knotted it at one.
The outcome moved Elco to 4-7 on the season and 4-5 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Annville-Cleona fell to 4-5-1 overall and 3-4-1 in Section Four of the L-L.
“The result was great,” said Elco head coach Mike Seigfried. “But it wasn’t pretty. I think we set a PIAA record for fouls in a game, both teams. We knew it was going to be a physical game.
“One thing we teach in soccer is: ‘Win space and the ball is your’s’,” Seigfried continued. “They were bigger than us and stronger than us, but we found the ball. We tell our kids, ‘Go to the ball. Go to the ball. Go to the ball.'”
“For us and Elco, it was typical,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Ray Kreiser. “All of our games are very, very chippy. It’s two schools that don’t like each other. There’s a lot of rivalry there. There’s respect, but I don’t know if there’s like.
“It’s two county schools and there’s a long rivalry there,” Kreiser added. “The kids play that much harder because they’re county schools.”
On an indirect kick 5:28 into the second half, Elco’s Clayton Bauder launched a good ball to the far post of A-C’s net. Raider sophomore Kevin Kegerise did an admirable job of running on to the long re-start and got part of his body on it to re-direct it past Little Dutchmen netminder Nicholas Morgan.
While the tally proved to be decisive, what made it pivotal was the fact that the Little Dutchmen had scored just 46 seconds earlier.
“That was huge,” said Seigfried of Kegerise’s game-winner. “We’ve been giving up a lot of goals early in games, late in the half and after we score. Little Kevin Kegerise was there. I don’t know if he headed it or chested it in. But he was there.
“I’m proud of the way the kids came right back after they (the Little Dutchmen) scored,” added Seigfried.
“We played horrible,” said Kreiser. “We didn’t play with any composure, and that was the whole game. Our heads were not in it. We weren’t on the same page. We just played real poorly.
“We actually played well for five or ten minutes after the half,” Kreiser continued, “then we scored and reverted back to the way we were playing. They (the Raiders) didn’t do anything speical to score that goal.”
Down 1-0 at the break, the Little Dutchmen tied it, thanks to some good ball skills by Elliot Beatty in the box. Unmarked right in front of the Elco net, Beatty was able to settle a long ball, get a touch on it and roll a low ball to the far post.
“He was able to settle it,” said Kreiser of Beatty’s score. “He was like five feet out. Their goalie (Deven Gerhart) is tall, and he (Beatty) was able to put it on the ground and he (Gerhart) couldn’t get it. It was a little bit of a misplay on their (the Raiders’) part.”
“I knew we were going to be rough around the edges,” said Seigfried. “We knew we didn’t have a lot of experience back, that we were going to take our lumps, but hopefully improve. We came into the season with like four or five returning goals.”
Elco assumed a 1-0 lead with 9:09 remaining in the first half. A long throw into the box was touched by James Gettle and then Cory Sholly was able to get his head on the ball enough to get it behind Morgan.
The A-C goal keeper appeared to be distracted by an Elco forward attempting to head it again.
“It was just a long throw-in,” said Seigfried. “We do have a couple of kids who have decent throw-ins and they come into play more on a smaller field. It was a good win for these guys. We had five games last week and we won only one. Maybe it’ll be the start of something.”
“The way we played today, I know we’re much better than this,” said Kreiser. “We’ve just got to play like it. We were starting to put things together, and the rains came, and we took 50 steps backwards.”
Early on, Gerhart came up big for Elco, to keep the game scoreless.
First, Gerhart completely stoned A-C forward Tyler Napierala after he had broken in alone and unleashed a low rocket from ten yards away. On the play, an Elco defender was called for pushing the back of a Little Dutchmen who had position going for the rebound.
Then on the resulting penalty kick, Gerhart sprawled to rob Keller Hess’ blast.
“We’ve had to play some players in certain situations,” said Seigfried. “We do have some depth, but we have young players. The other night we had five freshmen on the field against Tulpehocken and we played decently.
“Every win helps,” Seigfired continued. “We can get into the playoffs, but we still have some tough games.”
“Our expectations were to see if we could get over the .500 mark, because we haven’t in years,” said Kreiser. “This loss will hurt us because there’s a few teams ahead of us in the (District Three) rankings. Our goal is to get into the playoffs and get some experience. We can still get in, but we’ve got to right the ship really quickly.”