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IMG_2349BY JEFF FALK

PALMYRA – The Palmyra boys’ soccer team’s goals aren’t undetermined, they’re undeclared – which makes them even more their’s. But whatever those mystery goals are, you can  bet that the Cougars are on course to achieve them.

On a warm Tuesday afternoon at In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra continued to run down its preseason aspirations by shutting down and shutting out Harrisburg High, 7-0. Paced by two goals from senior David Bieler, six different Cougars found the back of the net, as Palmyra opened a commanding six-goal lead by intermission.

Balanced and unselfish, Palmyra dominated the play from the opening kick. The Cougars did not yield a shot on goal or a corner kick, despite substituting liberally.

With the outcome, the Cougars improved to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. The setback dropped Harrisburg to 0-7 on the fall and 0-6 in the division.

IMG_2344“We did set goals,” said Palmyra’s veteran second-year head coach Jerry Hoffsmith. “We went to a property we have at Raystown Lake over the summer, and we spent two days talking about goals and how to achieve them. What I won’t say is what they are. We continue to stay focused. We’re not exactly where we’d like to be, but we’re close. This is a project in progress. They’re (his players) learning more everyday. We’re working on our weaknesses, and they’re starting to jell.

“We’ll be at the halfway point of the season on Thursday, and Hershey will complete it,” continued Hoffsmith. “They’re (his players) playing well. It’s a good group of kids. They work hard and we have a good leadership team. I couldn’t ask for 38 better young men, and coaches. It’s a dream job right now.”

Palmyra netted its first goal 1:16 into the contest, but then wouldn’t score again until 19 minutes of game clock had elapsed.

The Cougars’ opening tally originated from a hard run down the right side of the field by Mitchell Dowling, who from nearly the end line, crossed a pass through the box to teammate John Jeffrey. With time and space, Jeffrey used his right foot to go far corner.

IMG_2214Palmyra’s second score was set up by Luke Higgins from the middle of the field. With a pass to his right, Higgins sent Jack Haldeman ahead and in all alone, and after one quick touch, Haldeman made no mistakes from 15 yards out.

“I thought we played well,” said Hoffsmith, who is believed to be the only rookie head coach in Lebanon County history to win a state championship. “It’s really difficult to focus on a game like this. I admire the way Harrisburg comes out and plays every night.

“Every game is important,” Hoffsmith continued. “We take them one at a time. Our goal is to possess the ball and get shots on goal.”

Later in the half, the Cougars registered a pair of goals 23 seconds apart to make it 4-0, and all but put the outcome to rest.

With 11:28 remaining on the first half clock, Higgins went from distributor to finisher. He accepted a perfectly served restart with his right foot and volleyed it into the net.

IMG_2248Then it was Bieler’s turn to get into the act. After Alec Haldeman was able to touch a 50-50 ball past Harrisburg goalie Arjuh Subba, Bieler was there to deposit the ball into an unattended net, from a sharp angle.

“After the second goal, I felt pretty confident,” said Hoffsmith. “It’s when I started subbing. It’s hard for them (his players) to focus on a game like this, but I’m pleased.

“I think we have a well-balanced team,” added Hoffsmith. “We don’t have a superstar out there. But we work hard as a team. That’s the thing I’m excited about. This is an overall environment we’re trying to create, one that goes beyond soccer.”

IMG_2163Talented newcomer Rijon Harrison extended Palmyra’s advantage to 5-0, 5:42 before intermission with an unassisted effort in the middle of the box. With a couple of athletic moves, Harrison created room for himself, before using his right foot to tickle the right side of the net’s twines.

Four minutes and 27 seconds later, Harrison played the ball from right to left to set the stage for Bieler. Bieler’s right-footer inside the right post was true.

“It’s pretty much just controlling the game,” said Hoffsmith. “We were just knocking it around.

“I’ve been on the other side of this scenario, and it’s not pleasant,” Hoffsmith added. “You’re putting secondary players in the game and they’re scoring.”

A crossing collaboration from Evan Wasilefski to Noah Reitz closed out the Cougar scoring, with less than two minutes to go.

Palmyra collected a total of 26 shots, 18 of which came in the first half. Palmyra also counted nine corner kicks.

“Everybody who was eligible to play played,” said Hoffsmith. “It was a big thing. My goal was to give them as much playing time as possible. At halftime, we had every starter out.”

 

 

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To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/photo-gallery/.

 

 

 

 

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2017 Palmyra Boys’ Soccer Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/01
@Elco
10:00 AM
09/02
Donegal
10:00 AM
09/07 *
@CD East
4:00 PM L 0-3
09/09
@Manheim Central
6:30 PM
09/12 *
Mechanicsburg
6:30 PM W 3-2
09/14 *
@Mifflin County
4:30 PM W 4-1
09/16 *
@Lower Dauphin
10:00 AM L 2-3
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/21 *
Hershey
6:30 PM In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra
09/25
@Shippensburg
7:00 PM Palmyra High School
09/25
@Waynesboro
7:00 PM Waynesboro High School
09/26 *
CD East
6:30 PM In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra
10/03 *
@Mechanicsburg
6:30 PM Northside Elementary School, Mechanicsburg
10/05 *
Mifflin County
6:30 PM In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra
10/09
@Carlisle
6:30 PM Ken Millen Stadium
10/10 *
@Harrisburg
5:15 AM Harrisburg High School
10/12 *
@Hershey
7:00 PM Hershey High School
10/14 *
Lower Dauphin
2:30 PM In The Net Sports Complex, Palmyra
10/16
Bishop McDevitt
6:30 PM Bishop McDevitt High School

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