BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – It’s not like it’s something you can put on a resume. Set Annville-Cleona High School record for soccer goals in a career.
It’s more like a title. Annville-Cleona All-Time Leading Goal Scorer Matt Light. Or Reagan Hess, Annville-Cleona’s Career Leader in Soccer Goals Scored.
Yeah, that’s right, current Little Dutchmen soccer players Reagan Hess and Matt Light are their respective programs’ all-time leaders in goals scored. But here’s the real kicker: They’ve both accomplished their feats during one of the most successful periods in Little Dutchmen history – the so-called ‘Golden Age of Annville-Cleona Soccer’.
Each have managed to create individual success within the team concept. And both’s success scoring goals has contributed to their teams’ overall success.
That’s a lot of success.
“I definitely wouldn’t have 71 goals if I hadn’t been a part of great teams,” said Light, a senior. “I’ve played with great teams and I’ve played with great players. That’s been a huge part of it. Scoring goals and winning is not much fun. But scoring goals and winning is fun.”
“I’d say it definitely adds to the appreciation of it,” said Hess, a junior. “Knowing that some of those goals has helped us win important games adds to the pride.”
Light became the Little Dutchmen’s all-time leading scorer last year at home against Donegal, when he notched his 43rd career goal. He has re-written his own record 28 times since.
Hess became Annville-Cleona’s most prolific female scorer in September, at home against Lebanon Catholic. She collected her 53rd career goal that day, and has established a new school record 23 times since.
“Yes, I do remember it,” said Hess, who has tallied 33 goals this fall alone. “I’m pretty sure Jordyn Shifflet assisted me. It was a run-on ball. One of my usual goals. It wasn’t a total breakaway, but it was a through ball.
“I don’t remember all the goals I’ve scored, but the important ones I do,” continued Hess. “When you break a record or go to double overtime or score against teams we weren’t supposed to win against, I remember them. And then there at the fill-ins.”
“We have it on video,” said Light of his historical goal against the Indians. “The goalie was trying to waste time because they were winning and I poked it through his legs.
“I don’t remember most of them,” Light added. “But there was one in our district game against Oley Valley in my sophomore year that I do. I think it was probably my best goal ever. Someone crossed it, it bounced off one player and it came to me. I knocked it as hard as I can, and it went far-post, upper 90.”
While Light and Hess are equally adept at scoring goals, their skill sets are different.
Light is like a surgeon on the field, very precise. He can use either foot well, is adept at beating defenders one-v-one, and has great vision and anticipation.
One of the fastest females to ever play girls’ soccer in Lebanon County, Hess’ game is based on speed. Also skilled with both feet, 90 percent of Hess’ goals come in the open field – on breakaways or partial breakaways.
“I don’t know. It comes naturally,” said Hess, who may very well be the most prolific goal scorer that Lebanon County has produced. “It just comes naturally. I think soccer in general just comes naturally. I feel accomplished to have gotten the record. Most people don’t get to say that.
“Last year I had 30 goals,” continued Hess. ‘But I don’t think it (the record) sits in very well with me. I just go off the year I had before, and try to up it.”
“I think it’s pretty impressive to think about,” said Light, who has 23 goals this season. “But I don’t try to count them. I just go out and score and play.”
Another thing that Light and Hess have in common – besides the consistent double teams they draw – is their humility. They’re the first to credit teammates, and they almost enjoy assisting on goals as much as scoring them themselves.
“I’m the only one at Annville-Cleona who can say they’ve scored 71 goals,” said Light. “This year, I think I’m playing pretty well. But most of my goals come from my teammates. We’re doing well.”
“I like scoring goals,” said Hess. “That feeling you get when you put the ball in the back of the net is like a great adrenaline shot. And you want to keep going, and do it again.
“I’d say I’ve definitely improved over my career,” continued Hess. “As a freshman, I didn’t know what to expect. It was ‘make varsity, start’. When I look back on my freshmen year, I’ve learned so much. Just those small touches help you put the ball in the back of the net.”
Finished soccer goals can be among the most creative plays in all of scholastic sports. Though they may have different styles, Hess and Light do it with equal style and flair.
“I think a lot of it is through-balls,” said Light of Hess’ nose for the goal. “She runs on them and finishes them well. She’s mostly more forward. I’ll play back a little more. She’ more of a finisher. Speed is also a part of my game. I think I’m faster, but compared to the people she plays with, she’s faster.”
“He’s really good at reading the field, and foot work,” said Hess of Light. “He has everything you look for in a striker. As most teams know, I play my speed to my advantage. Matt uses his speed, but he uses his skill too. I don’t feel like we play that much of a different game.”
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