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BY JEFF FALK

HERSHEY – Sometime during the regular season – no one knows exactly when – Elco became its own girls’ soccer team. Yesterday, the Raiders won their own championship.

But not before Maddie Bailey and her new found friend stared down the most difficult challenge in all of scholastic sports.

On a clear Saturday afternoon at Hersheypark Stadium, Elco won a completely new District Three Class AA championship, for the second year in-a-row, besting Boiling Springs in the final. Behind Bailey, the Raiders emerged victorious by outscoring the Bubblers 4-3 in penalty kicks, after the two sides had fought through 80 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of overtime playoff soccer without a goal.

With the result, the top-seeded Raiders improved to 16-4-2. As the District Three champion, Elco will open play in the PIAA playoffs on Tuesday against the runner-up from District Four, at a presumed local venue yet to be announced.

Elco had beaten Boiling Springs 1-0 in last year’s District Three Class AA championship game with a different goup but a similar makeup. For Elco, now 34-17 all-time in the these playoffs, it was its third District Three title overall.

Boiling Springs, the number-two seed, slipped to 16-4 overall.

“For me, I don’t know if there was a specific time,” said Elco head coach Derek Fulk, when asked when this year’s team took on its own identity. “I think a lot of people were saying with the quality class we lost, we’d have a hard time coming back. But I knew with the quality kids we had coming back, we weren’t going to be in a bad situation.

“No, definitely not (if he thought the Raiders would go back-to-back at the beginning of the season),” added Fulk. “I thought we’d be very good or had the ability to be very good. You know how it is, things have fallen in place. You’ve got to get some things to go your way. The difference was we played through some adversity and injuries.”

“I think we became our own team at the beginning of the season,” said Bailey. “Everybody had to step up. Everyone has their own role.

“I feel like this one (district championship) was a little more special because we had to work for this one,” Bailey added.

Elco rallied to win the penalty kick portion of the contest after trailing 3-1 halfway through it. With help from the right-hand goal post twice, Bailey turned away the Bubblers’ final two attempts, while teammates Cassie Johnson and Natalie Swingholm were converting their’s to pull the Raiders even.

Elco won it when freshman Paige Thomas, who hadn’t scored a goal all year, went left to beat sprawling Boiling Springs netminder Bekah Becker.

“I thought Maddy Bailey was outstanding,” said Fulk. “Our goalkeeper coach tells Maddy to try to read the kicker before she strikes the ball. They read body language. They read which way their eyes are taking them. You’ve got to make a decision and stick to it.

“I don’t know if Maddy got her hand on one or not,” continued Fulk. “We did a great job of taking the penalty kicks. For a ninth-grader (Thomas) to come in for this team and play centerback, and then come in with the game on the line in PKs, it shows the kid’s character.”

“Now I have. I understand,” said Bailey when asked if she ever heard the expression ‘goal posts are a goalie’s best friend.’ “It’s (penalty kicks) very nerve-racking, but it’s also calming because you’ve got to stay in it and keep it together. The good thing is stopping them. The bad thing is I misjudged the first two scores by going the wrong way.

“You have to watch them (the shooters), the way they’re set up,” continued Bailey. “Usually you have to pick one side, go to that side and hope you’re lucky.”

Bailey and the Raiders had also survived a couple of near-misses in the second 15-minute overtime session. The first one, off a corner, was headed over the net, and on the second one, Bailey got a piece of a hard low shot, then gobbled up the rebound.

In the second 40 minutes of action, Bailey got help from the crossbar, on a well-struck restart by the Bubblers.

“No, I didn’t want it,” said Fulk of the PKs. “For no other reason than that their keeper is very good. Give credit to our kids for getting the job done.

“It’s great,” Fulk continued. “I’m proud of our kids. I don’t think we had our best day today. We’re a blue-collar team. We work and work and work, and they make things happen.”

“I feel good,” said Bailey. “I feel alive.

“It would’ve been nice if we could’ve won it before overtime,” added Bailey. “But we still found a way. We had a lot of good opportunities, but we couldn’t finish on time. Defensively, we played well.”

The majority of the match consisted of two good teams battling for space in the midfield and creating few true scoring opportunities. The Raiders managed to generate a handful of dangerous chances, one each by Johnson and Swingholm in the first half and one by Katelyn Rueppel in the second.

When the dust had settled and the stats had been tabulated, Elco outshot Boiling Springs 11-7. Each side took a pair of corner kicks.

“We knew they were good defensively and they had a good goalkeeper,” said Fulk of the Bubblers. “I thought it would be a tight game. We both had good chances. It was an even game.

“We’re trying to build a quality program,” Fulk continued. “That’s what we tried to do from the beginning. He (Elco head boys’ soccer coach Kirk Keppley) taught me a lot. When I took this job we wanted to develop kids and teach them how to play soccer.”

“It was something mentally that I had to get over,” said Bailey of a shaky outing in last month’s Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs. “I had to work through my mistakes. But it was a learning experience.”

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

2019 Elco Girls’ Soccer Results

DateOpponentsOutcomes
8/30
10:00 am
Elco
at Palmyra
2
0
8/31
10:00 am
Conrad Weiser
at Elco
3
1
9/03
7:00 pm
Garden Spot
at Elco
2
3
9/06
4:00 pm
Elco
at Muhlenberg
8
0
9/07
7:00 pm
Elco
at Cedar Crest
2
1
9/10
7:00 pm
Cocalico
at Elco
0
6
9/13
4:00 pm
Donegal
at Elco
2
4
9/16
7:00 pm
Octorara
at Elco
0
8
9/19
4:00 pm
Elco
at Solanco
5
0
9/21
10:00 am
Elco
at Hershey
0
1
9/24
4:00 pm
Elco
at Lancaster Mennonite
3
0
9/25
4:00 pm
Elco
at Berks Catholic
2
1
9/27
4:00 pm
Elco
at Cocalico
0
4
9/30
4:00 pm
Elco
at Donegal
4
0
10/01
7:00 pm
Elco
at Octorara
6
0
10/04
4:00 pm
Solanco
at Elco
1
1
10/08
7:00 pm
Lancaster Mennonite
at Elco
1
8
10/12
12:00 pm
Conestoga Valley
Elco
at Cocalico
3
1
10/26
7:00 pm
Littlestown
at Elco
1
9
10/29
6:30 pm
Lancaster Catholic
Elco
at Tulpehocken
0
2
11/02
1:30 pm
Boiling Springs
Elco
at Hersheypark Stadium
3
4

PIAA District Three

Final Class AA Power Rankings

AASchool W L T Rating TWP OWP TWPW OWPW TWPL OWPL
1Eastern Lebanon County13-3-1 0.692625 0.830460 0.524160 14.5 153.0 3.0 138.9
2Boiling Springs14-3-0 0.690699 0.832432 0.517470 15.4 160.0 3.1 149.2
3Trinity (3)13-4-0 0.652572 0.754190 0.528373 13.5 167.6 4.4 149.6
4Lancaster Catholic15-2-1 0.644839 0.827485 0.421606 14.2 134.5 3.0 184.5
5James Buchanan13-5-0 0.639907 0.744565 0.511991 13.7 162.3 4.7 154.7
6Biglerville13-4-1 0.586834 0.712291 0.433498 12.8 140.2 5.2 183.2
7Wyomissing13-4-1 0.568005 0.727545 0.373011 12.2 117.2 4.6 197.0
8Littlestown13-5-0 0.565676 0.689474 0.414368 13.1 129.2 5.9 182.6
9Tulpehocken11-5-2 0.534526 0.651163 0.391969 11.2 123.0 6.0 190.8
10Northern Lebanon11-7-0 0.528771 0.568966 0.479644 9.9 150.8 7.5 163.6
11Eastern York10-8-0 0.517198 0.597826 0.418651 11.0 124.8 7.4 173.3
12Bermudian Springs9-6-1 0.503864 0.554545 0.441920 9.2 129.4 7.4 163.4
13Schuylkill Valley8-9-1 0.501454 0.470060 0.539824 7.9 166.1 8.9 141.6
14Middletown Area8-10-0 0.488257 0.434783 0.553615 8.0 180.7 10.4 145.7
15Susquenita11-7-0 0.468419 0.493750 0.437459 7.9 133.6 8.1 171.8
16Pequea Valley8-9-1 0.454126 0.418033 0.498239 7.7 155.7 10.7 156.8
17Delone Catholic7-9-0 0.442143 0.410112 0.481292 7.3 136.4 10.5 147.0
18Kutztown Area8-7-2 0.437301 0.484663 0.379415 7.9 112.8 8.4 184.5
19Lancaster Mennonite6-11-1 0.431124 0.351429 0.528530 6.2 165.8 11.4 147.9
20Octorara Area4-14-0 0.388526 0.264368 0.540274 4.6 161.7 12.8 137.6
21Hamburg Area3-14-1 0.356261 0.164740 0.590342 2.9 179.7 14.5 124.7
22Hanover1-17-0 0.272209 0.063725 0.527023 1.3 160.9 19.1 144.4
23Oley Valley0-16-0 0.219921 0.000000 0.488714 0.0 136.4 17.8 142.7

District Three

Class AA Past Champions

2019: Elco 2018: ELCO 2017: Boiling Springs 2016: Trinity 2015: Fleetwood 2014: Greencastle-Antrim 2013: Northern York 2012: Trinity (fall) 2012: Bishop McDevitt (spring) 2011: Trinity 2010: Trinity 2009: Fleetwood 2008: Tulpehocken 2007: Fleetwood 2006: Lancaster Mennonite 2005: Lancaster Mennonite 2004: Wyomissing 2003: ELCO

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