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IMG_6872BY JEFF FALK

SOUTH LEBANON – It was a horrible, cruel, devastating conclusion to a fabulous, rewarding, historic season. If one couldn’t have scripted a better season, then neither could’ve anyone imagined a worse ending.

On a misty Tuesday evening at Cedar Crest High School’s Ed and Jeannie Arnold Field at Earl Boltz Stadium, the Elco girls’ soccer team’s year was ended by their initial loss of the season, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs. Lewisburg was the culprit as it dispensed the Raiders with a 4-2 advantage in penalty kicks, after regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods ended in a 0-0 draw.

In the PK portion that followed OT, Lewisburg netted four straight scores after senior midfielder Ryelle Shuey had given Elco a 1-0 lead. On two of the Raiders’ misfires, Lewisburg keeper Lauren Gross made sprawling saves.

After capturing Section Three, Lancaster-Lebanon League and District Three Class AA championships with an undefeated record, the Raiders were seeking a lengthy run in the state playoffs. But in light of last night’s dose of reality, Elco concluded its fall with a 20-1-1 mark.

IMG_6867No Lebanon County team has ever won a PIAA girls’ soccer championship.

The Dragons, the runners-up out of District Four, upped their overall record to 11-8-3.

“I hate it,” said Elco head coach Derek Fulk of the decisive penalty kicks. “But it’s the way the rules are. To me, we’ve got to finish our chances. I definitely thought we were the better team, but we couldn’t put anything in the back of the net. In soccer, sometimes the best team doesn’t win.

“It’s tough to end your season that way,” continued Fulk. “Being 20-0-1 and having it come down to that, it’s difficult. I would preferred to keep playing (in overtime) and start taking players off.”

Though Elco enjoyed the better of play throughout, the Raiders seemed to generate more dangerous chances as the second half and overtimes wore on.

Midway through the initial OT session, a well-placed 43-yard restart off the foot of senior Julia Nelson was directed by a teammate towards the Lewisburg net. But Gross was positioned well to make the stop.

IMG_6832“Unless you’re playing on the 17th (of November, in the PIAA final), there’s no good way to lose,” said Fulk. “But we’ve got to finish our shots.

“At this point, they’re (his players) disappointed,” added Fulk. “But they have nothing to be ashamed of. It was one game which didn’t go our way. It was just one of those nights.”

The Raiders manufactured no less than three dangerous scoring opportunities late in regulation. With 17:30 remaining in the second half, Tanisha Grewal ran on to a 35-yard Nelson restart, but her right-footed volley bounced off the cross bar.

Two minutes later, Raider Katelyn Rueppel broke in alone on Gross, but was stoned from point-blank range. Then with 12:36 remaining in regulation, a good header by Shuey sailed wide right.

“I thought we created a lot of good things,” said Fulk. “I thought we dominated the second half. But we’ve got to put away our chances, and we’ve got to put things on frame. When we did, she (Gross) played well.

“It’s not what we thought would happen,” Fulk continued. “I know they’re (his players) disappointed. They had higher hopes for a state playoff run.”

Elco didn’t cause as many good scoring chances in the first half. But goalie Maddie Bailey and the Raider defense performed admirably and the game went to halftime scoreless.

“I don’t think they did anything special,” said Fulk of the Dragons. “That was pretty much what we expected them to do. We were trying to get balls to channel and get balls to the outside.”

The Raiders peppered the Lewisburg goal with seven second-half shots, and for the game out shot the Dragons 13-4. The corner kicks ended in a dead heat, at four apiece.

“They were good,” said Fulk of the Dragons. “We knew some of the stuff they were going to do. They had some good players.”

 

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IMG_6864To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_68392018 Elco Girls’ Soccer Results

Date Opponents Outcomes
8/31
10:00 am
Palmyra
at Elco
0
3
9/01
11:00 am
Elco
at Conrad Weiser
2
2
9/04
7:00 pm
Elco
at Garden Spot
3
0
9/07
4:00 pm
Muhlenberg
at Elco
0
10
9/08
5:00 pm
Cedar Crest
at Elco
9/11
4:00 pm
Elco
at Cocalico
6
1
9/14
4:00 pm
Elco
at Donegal
3
0
9/17
7:00 pm
Elco
at Octorara
5
0
9/20
7:00 pm
Solanco
at Elco
0
3
9/22
10:00 am
Hershey
at Elco
0
1
9/26
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Mennonite
3
1
9/28
4:00 pm
Cocalico
at Elco
0
4
10/01
12:00 pm
Elco
at Donegal
5
0
10/03
7:00 pm
Octorara
at Elco
0
5
10/05
4:00 pm
Elco
at Solanco
3
0
10/08
4:00 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Elco
0
3
10/11
4:00 pm
Berks Catholic
at Elco
10/13
10:00 am
Ephrata
Elco
at Lancaster Catholic
1
4
10/16
5:30 pm
Elco
Hempfield
at Manheim Central
1
0
10/18
5:30 pm
Conestoga Valley
Elco
at Warwick
1
2
10/27
7:00 pm
Pequea Valley
at Elco
0
7
10/31
5:00 pm
James Buchanan
Elco
at Donegal
1
6
11/03
3:30 pm
Elco
at Boiling Springs
1
0
11/06
7:00 pm
Lewisburg
Elco
at Cedar Crest
0
0
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