BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – Turns out there’s degrees of urgency.
The Elco girls’ soccer team really wasn’t fazed by the prospect of the game possibly being its last of the season. The Raiders needed a more concrete stimulus, like an 0-2 deficit.
And the way it turned out, it may have been a freshman who sensed it out first.
On Monday night at Elco Stadium, ninth-grader Ryellle Shuey and the Raiders rescued their season from the jaws of oblivion with a 3-2, come-from-behind triumph over Schuylkill Valley, in the opening round of the District Three Class AA playoffs. Shuey’s goal with 1:26 remaining completed a furious Raider rally and pushed them into Thursday’s quarterfinal round against 14th seeded East Pennsboro, which upset third-seeded Boiling Springs 1-0.
Trailing 2-0, 16 minutes into the second half, the Raiders got goals from Jenna Oliviero and Shuey 7:28 apart to tie it.
With the win, Elco, the sixth-seed and the reigning Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three champion, improved to 15-4-1 overall. Schuylkill Valley, the 11th seed, completed its campaign at 10-7-2.
“I thought we played with a sense of urgency once we got behind 2-0,” said Elco head coach Derek Fulk. “I don’t know why we started so slow. We seemed to start out of sorts, and I don’t know why.
“I don’t think that was our best game by any stretch of the imagination,” continued Fulk. “We were fortunate to come back, but we didn’t want to be in that position. I thought we came out a little flat, and I’m not sure why.”
With regulation running down and overtime looming on the horizon, Shuey, who was recently named the MVP of Section Three, gobbled up a loose ball in the midfield, turned and found herself in space. She took a quick peek at the Panther goal, then lofted a 30-yard left-footer over Schuylkill Valley keeper Samantha Phillips’ head and inside the far post.
“I can’t believe she heard me yelling,” said Fulk of his words of encouragement from the sideline. “I’m not sure if she looked at the goal, but the shot couldn’t have been better. We talked about shooting high on the goalkeeper. She’s accurate and dangerous with both her right and left foot.
“I’m fortunate to have her,” added Fulk. “I’m fortunate to have her for three more years. She’s one of those kids who comes along once in a long while. She’s special.”
Officially, it was Shuey who tied the match at two, with 16:45 remaining, on a penalty kick. But in reality, it was probably teammate Kate Fisher who created the play.
The Raiders were awarded a penalty kick when a hustling Fisher was fouled from behind inside the box. All that was left for Shuey to do was calmly slide a low right-footer along the ground inside the left post.
“When it was 2-0, I thought we really stepped up the intensity,” said Fulk. “I thought the first goal helped lift us up a little bit. I thought that goal lifted our spirits, changed momentum and changed our mindset.
“No, it (that the season was on the line) didn’t sink in,” continued Fulk. “Once Jenna (Oliviero) score it was 2-1, and at least now it was a different ball game. Ryelle took a great penalty kick.”
Oliviero’s goal also resulted from an open field. A ball was played by Shuey from the left side into the Schuylkill Valley goal mouth, and Oliviero, refusing to give up on the play, beat Phillips to it and touched it by her.
But the spark that may have ignited the Raider fire had come a few minutes earlier, when Elco keeper Emma Strickler had to be replaced by Haley Sherk, after the former hit the ground hard as the result of a collision.
“I think the way we scored that first goal, with Jenna (Oliviero) hustling and getting a toe on it, was important,” said Fulk. “It was a very opportunistic goal. It almost came from nothing. And I thought Kate Fisher did a great job getting the penalty kick, hustling through it.
“I think we can be as good as anybody (in the District Three tournament) on any given night,” Fulk continued. “Tonight we found a way to get it done. I’d love to win a district championship. But I’m not sure we can get it done.”
The Panthers extended their 1-0 halftime lead 3:48 into the second stanza. The flow of play was switched from the right side of the field to the left, and SV attacker Megan Jardine used her left foot to go far past.
Schuylkill Valley had assumed that 1-0 lead midway though the first half, on a connection between sisters Megan Murphy and Fiona Murphy. From the right, F. Murphy located M. Murphy unattended in the Elco goal mouth, and from point-blank range, M. Murphy hit a shot that Strickler got a hand on, before squirting over her head and into the net.
“With what we had back and with the addition of three freshmen, there was definitely a feeling we could win the section,” said Fulk. “But you never know. You never know how it’s going to go. But with the kids we had returning, we thought we could definitely be competitive.
“I think we’ve definitely improved from the beginning of the season,” added Fulk. “Just the chemistry with the mix, as the year has gone on, has got to make you more comfortable with each other. I’m hoping this was our bad game, we got it out of the way and now we can move forward.”
Elco out shot Schuylkill Valley 11-10.
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|12:00 PM||W 2-0|
|7:00 PM||W 6-1|
|4:00 PM||W 2-1|
|5:15 PM||L 0-3|
|7:00 PM||W 2-0|
|7:00 PM||L 2-4|
|7:00 PM||W 2-0|
|5:00 PM||L 1-2|
|7:00 PM||W 11-2|
|7:00 PM||W 4-0|
|7:00 PM||W 4-0|
|4:00 PM||W 4-0|
|7:00 PM||W 3-0|
|7:00 PM||W 4-1|
|7:00 PM||W 2-1|
|4:00 PM||T 0-0|
|4:00 PM||W 6-1|
|7:00 PM||W 4-1|
|10:30 AM||L 0-1|
|7:00 PM||W 3-2|
Section Three Standings