PALMYRA – There’s no question that they stack up, that they measure up. But the Palmyra boys’ soccer team isn’t content with that, it wants more.
The Cougars want to beat the best.
On a humid Saturday afternoon at Palmyra High School’s Belair Field at OAL Sports Complex, the Cougars more than held their own with perennial power Lower Dauphin. But the Falcons took advantage of a small window to generate a late goal and post a 1-0 victory over Palmyra.
Despite knocking it around pretty well with the Falcons all match long, Palmyra fell to 4-2 on the fall and 4-2 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. Lower Dauphin upped its overall mark to 4-0-1, and its Keystone Division record to 4-0-1.
Palmyra was positioned 12th in the latest power rankings for a District Three AAA classification that takes eight for its postseason tournament.
“If you look at recent history, Lower Dauphin is the gold standard in central Pennsylvania,” said Palmyra first-year head coach Jeff Wilfer. “I thought we played with them. We knew we had to go through them to get the division. I thought we stacked up well against them.
“We’ve seen games where we might get 15-20 shots on frame and ten good scoring chances,” continued Wilfer. “Today, we knew we were only going to get two or three good chances, so you’ve got to be ready to take advantage of them. They’re (the Falcons) always organized. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. You’ve got to make a play to beat these guys.”
While the scoring opportunities for both sides were limited, it was Lower Dauphin which took advantage of its.
With the game score-less and 6:46 remaining on the regulation clock, Falcon Vaughn Sarago worked hard to gain control of a loose ball, deep on the right-hand side in Cougar territory. Sarago slipped a short pass to teammate Owen Shea, who unleased a quick right-footer that eluded Palmyra keeper Manny Rose to the upper portion of the net.
Shea’s shot came from 25 yards out, and needed to be well-placed to get over Palmyra’s packed-in defense.
“We lost the ball in our third,” said Wilfer. “They (the Falcons) got control. We had dealt with some sustained pressure. Shea got the ball on his right foot, and to his credit, hit a beautiful shot that found the back of the net.
“In the first half, we were antsy. We weren’t connecting our passes,” Wilfer continued. “They (the Falcons) wanted us to play direct, and I thought we played into their hands a little bit. In the second half, we did a much better job. Our guys were pressing. But sometimes it’s better to play smart than hard.”
Lower Dauphin certainly enjoyed the better of the play during the first 40 minutes of the match, and the Cougars didn’t register their first shot-on-goal until early in the second half. While the Palmyra offense certainly came alive after halftime, the Cougars needed a spectacular sprawling save from Rose 13 minutes into the second half to keep the game score-less.
“We’re certainly not pleased with the result,” said Wilfer. “I thought early on, Lower Dauphin had us on our heels. But I thought we settled in and let the game come to us.
“In the second half, I was pleased with the way we played,” added Wilfer. “I thought we did a much better job connecting. I thought we had some quality chances, but they dealt with them. At the end of the day, that’s soccer sometimes.”
Thanks to a 6-0 advantage in the opening half, Lower Dauphin out shot Palmyra 10-5. The Falcons took nine corner kicks compared to the Cougars’ three.
“Our expecations for ourselves are probably higher than anyone else’s,” said Wilfer. “We lost some good players from last year’s team and most of our starters. But we have good players. We want to win every game on our schedule.
“The division (championship) is always a goal,” Wilfer added. “We get to see Lower Dauphin and Hershey again. It’s that ‘1-0’ mentality. It’s the next game up. We’ll have opportunities to get where we need to be.”
|23||Bishop McDevitt (3)||2-||2-||1||0.461356||0.470000||0.450791||2.35||25.65||2.65||31.25|
|29||Eastern Lebanon County||1-||5-||1||0.373278||0.250000||0.523952||1.85||43.75||5.55||39.75|
|2020-10-03||A||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||4-0|
|2020-10-20||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||0-0|