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BY JEFF FALK

MANCHESTER – In one breath, the Elco girls got the most out of their season that they possibly could have. But that’s kind of hard to say when in the final game of that season, which they lost, the Raiders were the better team.

On a chilly Saturday afternoon at Northeastern High School, Elco endured a troubling end to its splendid fall campaign, with a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Lansdale Catholic, in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class AA playoffs. A late goal by Crusader leader Kellie Gillen made Lansdale Catholic the survivor, after the Raiders had enjoyed the better of the play most of the afternoon.

It was a somewhat cruel ending for an Elco squad which had captured its second straight District Three Class AA championship, its fifth straight Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three title and had gone 17-4-2 to this point of the year. In some ways it was reminiscent of how the Raiders’ undefeated season ended last year, with a penalty kick loss to Lewisburg in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA postsason.

For Lansdale Catholic, the champions of District 12, it’s on to Tuesday’s state semifinals.

“I think with what we did last year, those seniors instilled in these kids a hunger that helped get us to this point,” said Elco head coach Derek Fulk. “These kids had a huge motivation to get here. It was a great tone-setter for this crew. We got a lot out of this group. But we still have a good group coming back. It’s something to build on.

“I thought we definitely out played them,” added Fulk. “Our one concern was number ten (Gillen), and she made a good play in the last ten minutes of the game.”

At one point during the second half of Saturday’s contest, it seemed almost inevitable that the Raiders would come up with the goal that would break the 1-1 tie. But not long after that, following some sustained Elco pressure resulting from a Raider corner, Gillen and the Crusaders counter attacked down the left side of the field.

The dribbling Gillen closed on the Elco frame, and slid a low shot inside the left post that beat Raider goalie Maddy Bailey, with 9:08 left.

Seven minutes later, Elco junior Katelyn Rueppel clanged a potential game-tying shot off the goal post.

“I think we over committed and got caught off guard a little bit,” said Fulk of Gillen’s game-winner. “Number ten (Gillen) was a really good player. She made a really nice play. You don’t want her having the ball in the last ten minutes.

“We definitely had our chances,” Fulk added. “Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go your way. We wasted some opportunities. It was one of those thing where we couldn’t get that last ball, that last pass to go our way. I thought we had some really good plays.”

Some three minutes after heading an attempt off the crossbar, Rueppel scored the Elco goal that tied the game at one, 4:41 before the break. Off a 20-yard direct kick, Rueppel curled a shot aroundd Lansdale Catholic’s four-person wall that beat keeper Brynne U’Selis high to the far side of the net.

“She was outstanding today,” said Fulk of the player known simply as ‘Kae-Kae. “She’s going to feel like she didn’t play well. But she did.

“I don’t know how we played,” continued Fulk. “At times, I thought we did some really good things. Other times we were sloppy. I’ve been noticing the last few games, which have been on turf, that our first touches haven’t been great and that our continuity wasn’t there. Obviously the size of the field plays a role. But we played about half of our games on turf this year.”

It was Gillen who had staked Lansdale Catholic to a 1-0 edge 4:14 into the game. From the left side of the field, she took a couple of touches before rolling a low shot past Bailey inside the near post.

“I’m sure they’re hurting right now,” said Fulk of his charges. “But this is definitely a step in the right direction.

“Our program has been great,” continued Fulk. “It’s been about our kids, and I have great coaches. We’re doing the right things. We’re trying to do the right things. They have nothing to be ashamed of.”

On the final score sheet, Elco out shot Lansdale Catholic 12-5. Each side was awarded four corner kicks.

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
11/05
7:00 pm
Lewisburg
Elco
at Cedar Crest
0
3
11/09
12:00 pm
Lansdale Catholic
Elco
at Northeastern H.S.

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