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IMG_9296BY JEFF FALK

ANNVILLE – Sure everyone wants to go undefeated. They be like, ‘Why can’t we go undefeated?’

But being undefeated is no picnic. It looks more glamorous from the outside than it really is.

There’s pressure from within to stay undefeated. And with a target on your back, everyone comes gunning for you with their best.

Some will even go as far as trying to use milestones to hand you a loss.

On a warm Thursday evening, the Elco girls’ soccer team remained undefeated, but it wasn’t easy, as the Raiders were forced to endure their toughest test to date. Freshman Tanisha Grewal’s goal 2:44 into the initial ten-minute, golden-goal overtime period capped a furious Elco comeback, and the Raiders escaped Annville-Cleona with a dicey 3-2 triumph over the Little Dutchmen.

IMG_9160With momentum clearly on their side heading into overtime, Raider sophomore Ryelle Shuey found Grewal with time and space at the top of the box. Grewal took one touch and then hooked the game-winner inside the right post with her right foot.

To force overtime, Elco erased a 2-0 deficit with a pair of goals in the final 14:05 of regulation. That deficit came courtesy of Little Dutchmen senior Reagan Hess, who notched the 100th and 101st goals of her spectacular career.

With the result, Elco improved to 10-0 overall and 7-0 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. The Raiders have now outscored their opponents by a combined margin of 35-6 this season.

IMG_9139The outcome made Annville-Cleona 4-6 on the year and 1-5 in the section.

“We don’t talk about being undefeated,” said Elco head coach Derek Fulk. “We talk about continuing to play well. Being on the top  of the section, you’re going to get everyone’s best game. We’re just trying to keep things going, and improve.

“We had been defending very well, and had been finishing well,” continued Fulk. “When you have the caliber of players we have, things have to fall into place. They work hard and they feed off each other. Different people have been stepping up all the time.”

“We just held them (the Raiders) to a tie in regulation. I feel like we played great,” said Annville-Cleona rookie head coach John Myers. “I’d say we contained, and we possessed when we needed to. We didn’t give up many easy shots.

IMG_9150“From the box scores, they’ve (the Raiders) got a lot of firepower,” Myers continued. “I knew coming in we couldn’t give them easy shots. There wasn’t many games where they didn’t score more than a couple of goals. Everything had to be contested.”

Despite owning the better of the play, the Raiders were facing a 2-0 hole with time running out in regulation. And it was a seemingly innocent play along the right baseline that ignited the Raiders’ rally.

Ryelle Shuey’s initial attempt at a cross was blocked by a Little Dutchmen defender, but the ball dribbled right to freshman teammate Natalie Swingholm. With her right foot, Swingholm beat Annville-Cleona netminder Alyssa Blackman inside the near post.

IMG_9176Then 3:28 later, Elco came up with the equalizer, thanks to a goal from Emily Bidelspach. Bidelspach accepted a pass from Jennifer Axarlis in the middle of the pitch, turned and ripped a 25-yarder with her right foot inside the left post.

“Absolutely I was concerned. Very concerned,” said Fulk. “One-to-nothing’s different. Two-to-nothing is a little tougher. It seemed like it wasn’t our night. It seemed like we had a lot of chances, and their keeper (Blackman) played great.

“The thing we kept saying was, ‘Get the first one’,” added Fulk. “And then things will open up a little bit. I think your mindset changes once you get that first goal. I thought our demeanor changed a little bit. They (his players) were working hard and we had our chances.”



“Our strategy was not to give up the easy shots,” said Myers. “We just needed a little more energy. We needed a little more stamina.

“Alyssa (Blackman) played a solid game for us,” Myers added. “She owned the six-yard box. She was commanding. She got beat on a really good shot (on the third goal).”

IMG_9256In opening their 2-0 advantage, the Little Dutchmen scored on their first two shots of the game. Both Annville-Cleona goals were vintage Reagan Hess – speed, skill and determination.

The first came 18:12 into the contest, off a feed from Gracey Lombardo. Hess beat her defender, and with time to measure Raider goalie Emma Strickler, she drilled a 15-yarder with her right foot to the right post.

Hess netted her second goal of the game – and the 101st of her career – 4:18 into the second half. Sent ahead by Liane Lech, Hess used her speed to beat Strickler to the ball, touched it by her and then easily deposited it into the unoccupied net.

IMG_9100Hes is the first girl in the history of Lebanon County soccer to surpass the 100-goal plateau.

“On the first goal, the ball got played over the top and she (Hess) muscled Jules (Julia Nelson) out of the way and got off a good shot,” said Fulk. “On the second goal, the ball was misplayed to their midfielder and she played the ball to Reagen. Ninety percent of the time, given the chance, she’s going to bury it.

“She has unbelievable speed,” continued Fulk. “She’s so fast that she creates her own opportunities. To score 101 goals, that’s fantastic.”

IMG_9171“Speed and skill put her in position to score,” said Myers of Hess. “Persistence and patience puts the ball in the back of the net.

“It’s certainly special,” Myers continued. “But it took 11 players this year. It took 11 players last year, and it took 11 players all four years. It takes multiple coaches, volunteers and it takes determination from Reagan. Through all that, she’s been a totally unselfish player. She’d rather have a team win than that record.”

The final stats were heavily tilted towards Elco – 21-5 in shots and 7-0 in corner kicks. Included in that was a Raider shot off the post nine minutes into the second half, and a defensive save from A-C field player Gabbie Bennett, who robbed Shuey’s attempted header off a corner 14 minutes into the second stanza.

IMG_9269“I don’t think we played well,” said Fulk. “But I guess it’s a situation where we’re finding ways to win, and that’s a testament to our kids’ character. Tuesday night we struggled too (during a 2-1 win over Pequea Valley). We’re getting into the thick of our schedule, and not getting much rest. We’ve got some bumps and bruises too.

“They (the Little Dutchmen) had a good strategy,” Fulk added. “They were trying to bunker in and counter attack. They were looking to get Reagen free and they did. She’s tremendously dangerous. She’s a special player. She’s an unbelievable finisher.”

IMG_9208“We’re 4-5 and I think we’re better than our record shows,” said Myers. “On Tuesday night, we went down to Lancaster Mennonite 4-0 and in the second half we beat them 1-0. We just need to put it together for 80 minutes.

“Of course there’s been an adjustment,” added Myers. “I’ve asked them (his players) to play a different game. I’m a different coach. They lost seven seniors from last year. Of course there’s an adjustment period.”

 

To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.

 

 

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IMG_92742016 Elco Girls’ Soccer Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/02
@Tulpehocken
4:00 PM W 4-1
09/03
@Conrad Weiser
11:00 AM W 3-0
09/07 *
@Lancaster Catholic
4:00 PM W 4-0
09/09 *
Lebanon Catholic
4:00 PM W 9-1
09/10
Cedar Crest
5:30 PM W 1-0
09/13 *
Lancaster Mennonite
7:00 PM W 5-0
09/15 *
@Donegal
7:00 PM W 2-1
09/17 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM W 4-0
09/20 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/22 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/26
@Middletown
7:00 PM Middletown High School
09/28 *
Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Elco High School
09/30 *
@Lebanon Catholic
4:00 PM Lebanon Catholic School
10/03 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
4:00 PM Lancaster Mennonite High School
10/05 *
Donegal
4:00 PM Elco High School
10/07 *
@Northern Lebanon
4:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
10/10 *
@Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Pequea Valley High School
10/12 *
Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Elco High School

 

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IMG_93012016 Annville-Cleona Girls’ Soccer Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/02
Lancaster Country Day
4:00 PM W 7-0
09/07 *
@Northern Lebanon
5:30 PM L 0-3
09/09 *
Pequea Valley
4:00 PM W 3-1
09/10 #
Northwestern Lehigh
4:00 PM L 0-3
09/13 *
Donegal
4:00 PM L 2-4
09/15 *
@Lancaster Catholic
4:00 PM L 1-2
09/20 *
Lancaster Mennonite
4:00 PM
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/22 *
Elco
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/24
@Oley Valley
10:00 AM Oley Valley High School
09/28 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/30 *
@Pequea Valley
4:00 PM Pequea Valley High School
10/03 *
@Donegal
4:00 PM Donegal High School
10/05 *
Lancaster Catholic
4:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/07 *
Lebanon Catholic
4:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/07 *
@Lebanon Catholic
4:00 PM Lebanon Catholic School
10/10 *
@Lancaster Mennonite
7:00 PM Lancaster Mennonite High School
10/12 *
@Elco
7:00 PM Elco High School

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