BY JEFF FALK
ROBESONIA – There are three distinct components to Elco’s initial girls’ soccer fall – the non-league portion, the league portion and the postseason. Safe to say that the Raiders are hoping the upcoming postseason will be more of a reflection of their play in the league than outside of it.
On Saturday afternoon at Conrad Weiser, less than 24 hours after registering its most important win to date, Elco dropped its fourth non-league game of the year, 2-0 to the hometown Scouts. Conrad Weiser notched both of its goals in a six-minute span late in the first half, and the Raiders couldn’t solve Scout keeper Jodie Elmer.
On Friday, Elco had scored a huge 2-1 victory at Lancaster Mennonite, a win that assured it of at least a tie for the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three crown. It’s a title that the Raiders haven’t earned in ten years, but one they could secure on Wednesday with a triumph over Lancaster Catholic.
Currently 10-1 in Section Three, yesterday’s loss dropped Elco to 10-5 overall. Conrad Weiser is now an idential 10-5 on the season.
“We played terrific yesterday and today it was like we were a different team,” said Elco head coach Steve Keller. “But I think we were drained. We didn’t play the way we can play. This was bad timing. To have three big games this week, and then have to play today, this should’ve been an off day.
“Numbers-wise, any game is going to help your power rating (for districts),” Keller added. “But emotionally, you spend so much on the section. Beating Lancaster Mennonite down there, we were excited. But we needed some down time. The bus trip to Lancaster Mennonite, the bus trip back and then we told the kids, ‘we’ll see you tomorrow at 1:15’.”
It was Elmer’s long punt that eluded the Elco midfielders and on which Racis ran. Racis managed to create separation from a pair of Elco defenders, then struck a right-footer to the near post which diving Raider keeper Nicole Walker could only get a piece of.
The goal made it 1-0 Scouts with 15:11 to go before halftime.
“The wind had a lot to do with that goal,” said Keller. “Their keeper punted it, and on one bounce number 24 (Racis) collected it. And she just used her good skills.
“She (Racis) was a really, really good player who got an opportunity,” Keller continued. “And sometimes when you give a really, really good player an opportunity, she’s going to take advantage of it.”
After Scout teammate Janelle Grego had worked the Elco baseline, she shuffled a short pass to Racis positioned in the mouth of the Raider goal. Not closely marked, Racis slid a shot to the back side of the Elco net, inside the far post.
“I’m chalking it up to being out of gas,” said Keller. “We have so many games in a short period of time, and we need at least a day to recover. There’s no recoup time. And we’re banged up as it is.
“You just have to forget about it,” Keller added. “Starting Monday, we’ll have time in between games.”
What turned out to be Elco’s best chance to score all day, came on its initial shot of the game. Six minutes in, Raider middie Dayna Willhoyte pounced on a loose ball at the top of the box and uncorked a right-footer that drew cross bar.
“Our skills weren’t crisp. Our passes weren’t crisp,” said Keller. “But we had some chances today. The shot count was about the same. If we’re 80 percent and can’t get to those balls, compared to if we’re 100 percent and had those shots, we might have scored three, four, five goals today.”
Of the halves, Elco certainly performed better during a second in which it out shot the Scouts 9-3 and took five corner kicks to their zero. All total, the Raiders enjoyed a 13-10 advantage in shots and a 7-3 margin in corners.
“Yeah, they’re all good teams,” said Keller of non-league losses to Cedar Crest, Tulpehocken and Cocalico. “But I’m very pleased with where we’re at. To be the section leader at this point of the season and potentially win the section, that was one of our goals. I do think we’re going to get momentum again and move forward.
“It would be the first time in a long time that we’ve won the section,” Keller continued. “And there’s some quality teams in the section. To beat Lancaster Mennonite twice and go 10-1 in the section, I couldn’t be happier.”