BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – There are extenuating circumstances that would add to its prestige. And there are certain accompanying perks that would make it even more attractive.
But could the Annville-Cleona boys’ soccer team be satisfied with finishing second in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League?
On Wednesday afternoon at home, the Little Dutchmen took another step in that direction with a 4-0 whitewashing of Lancaster Catholic. Six different A-C attackers figured in the scoring, in support of junior keeper Koy Alwine, who wasn’t seriously tested in logging the shutout.
The win was significant for the Little Dutchmen in that it gave them a leg up on in the three-way battle for second place with Elco and Donegal that they are currently engaged in. With a three-game lead in the loss column, the combatants have all but conceded the section championship to Lancaster Mennonite.
Annville-Cleona is now 11-3 overall and 8-3 in Section Three, while Lancaster Catholic, playing its third game in three days, slipped to 4-9 on the year and 3-8 in the section. The top three finishers from Section Three qualify for the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.
“That’s better than we’ve been for a long, long time,” said Ray Kreiser, Annville-Cleona’s veteran head coach. “I’d have to look back and see when the last time was we had ten league win. Being the second smallest school in the league and seeing where we are, that’s a nice accomplishment. We’ve given Mennonite some wonderful games, but we’ve got to find a way to get over the hump.
“Right now, there’s a three-way tie for second place between Elco, Donegal and ourselves,” added Kreiser. “Elco plays Dongeal tonight (Wednesday) and we play Donegal tomorrow (Thursday). It’s important to stay in second place, and tomorrow we can solidify it. Someone could pick Mennonite off, but they would have to lose every single one of their remaining games, and I don’t see that happening.”
Annville-Cleona netted a pair of goals 4:20 apart late in the first half to stretch a 1-0 edge into a 3-0 bulge.
First, off a corner taken by Alex St. Clair, senior Gordon Parks got his right foot on the service and re-directed inside the right post. Then, with 10:24 remaining in the stanza, St. Clair finished an unassisted rush down the left sideline by detonating a left-footed bomb into the far corner.
“We came out really strong in the first half, and in the second half, we wanted to control the game,” said Kreiser. “We have a game tomorrow, so we didn’t want to throw everything at them. It was a solid performance by our guys. When you see four different guys score goals, and six figure in the scoring, you’ve got to be pleased.
“Our goal was to come out and get an earlier goal, to get them back on their heels” Kreiser added. “Nine minutes in is still relatively early. We thought if we could pin them (the Crusaders) back, it would make it tough.”
It was senior leader, offensive catalyst and the program’s all-time leading scorer – Matt Light – who got the Little Dutchmen off on the right foot – the left one that is. Nine minutes in, Light accepted a Santiago Paris Gimeno through-ball, took one touch with his left foot and then rifled a blast into the top right corner of the frame.
“He’s a leader, both on and off the field,” said Kreiser of Light. “You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who works harder. He’s a scorer, but he takes more pride in his assists. He has a laser of a shot, but he also has that soft touch. And he can will us to wins. He has every facet of the game. He’s just a phenomenal player.
“When Matt steps on the field, he automatically makes everyone better,” Kreiser continued. “You do that by example. He’s definitely the leader of the team, but he couldn’t do it by himself.”
Light inserted the restart that produced Annville-Cleona’s final goal, with 4:20 remaining in the match. From 30 yards out, Light’s service into the box was touched from Eli Setlock to Javier Gonzalez Sanchez, who finished with his left foot inside the left post.
“When we are clicking offensively, we are very tough,” said Kreiser. “Today, for a couple of minutes, we were clicking. We played around with our lineup a little bit. I wanted to work on a couple of things so we have the experience and know-how to do it down the road.
“It’s been a surprising year,” Kreiser continued. “A very enjoyable year, but a surprising one. We’re better than I thought we’d be. They’ve (his players) continued to improve, and have gotten a little bit better, a little bit better. I said from the beginning of the year that things just sort of aligned right. Some of these section games are really, really tight. On any given day, somebody’s going to beat somebody.”
Annville-Cleona out shot Lancaster Catholic 18-4.
“It’s nice to get to that level,” said Kreiser of the L-L league playoffs. “Our main goal is districts. It’s (the league tournament) for the kids. It’s about getting there, even though you’re up against a school three or four times your size. But it’s nice to see what you’re able to do against a team like that.
“This team travels well,” continued Kreiser. “We’ve been to districts before, but just the seniors and the playoffs are a whole different setting. If you don’t go there year after year after year, it’s hard to understand the atmosphere. Our goal is to win out and try to get as high a seed as we can. Right now, we’re close to locking it (the berth) up, but we take nothing for granted.”
To purchase images in this article email email@example.com, or to see more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-nine/. Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Three Standings
2015 Annville-Cleona Schedule
|4:00 PM||W 5-2|
|7:00 PM||W 1-0|
|4:00 PM||L 2-3|
@Lancaster County Christian
|10:00 AM||W 4-1|
|4:00 PM||W 8-1|
|4:00 PM||W 7-0|
York Country Day
|4:00 PM||W 8-0|
|10:00 AM||W 5-0|
|4:00 PM||L 0-3|
|7:00 PM||W 9-0|
|7:00 PM||W 4-3|
|4:00 PM||L 0-5|
|4:00 PM||W 8-1|
|4:00 PM||W 4-0|
|7:00 PM||Donegal High School|
|7:00 PM||Pequea Valley High School|
|5:30 PM||Northern Lebanon High School|
West Shore Christian
|7:00 PM||Annville-Cleona High School|