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IMG_4733BY JEFF FALK

PALMYRA – The sense of belonging is one of the most basic human psychological needs. Everybody wants to feel like they belong.

In soccer circles, there’s no better way to prove that one belongs than by sticking a bunch of goals into the back of a net.

On a windy Saturday afternoon at In The Net Sports Complex, the Palmyra boys’ soccer team not only showed it belonged in the District Three Class AA postseason, it served notice it would be a force to be reckoned with in the tournament. The Cougars netted six goals in a late-first-half span of 16 minutes which spilled over into the second half, and pummeled James Buchanan 7-2 in a play-in game to said district playoffs.

IMG_4721Inspired by Alex Hoffsmith’s hat trick, five different Palmyra players tickled the twines, and they seemingly scored them in just as many creative ways. In addition to Hoffsmith, Jared Bowman, Isaac Albright, Gavin Kerr and Sean Bordner all scored Cougar goals, while teammates Cole Ensminger contributed three assists and Ian Frazier, Colin Wise and Bordner all collected a ‘helper’ apiece.

Scoring goals on seven of its 15 shots, Palmyra was also very efficient in its attack. Amazingly, the Cougars’ goal output was not their season high. Palmyra had produced eight goals on three previous occasions this fall.

IMG_4855The triumph moved Palmyra to 8-10-1 overall and into the Class AA main draw opposite top-seeded and 18-1 Lancaster Mennonite. That match will go down on Monday at 7 p.m. at Lancaster Mennonite.

James Buchanan, which was making its first District Three appearance in seven seasons, bowed out at 8-10-1.

“I thought we played well because we stayed focused on our goal,” said Palmyra head coach Andrew Hull, seemingly the only person on the Palmyra roster who didn’t figure into the scoring. “Because we did, we came out with a fantastic result. We were hungry to score. We were hungry to play. The boys were driven.

“I liked all of our goals because we had a nice mix,” continued Hull. “We just were hungry, and we were creative. We’ve done a decent job on the attack this season. We don’t have one stud scorer. Each of our attack players possess their own unique set of skills.”

IMG_4810Bordner opened the Palmyra scoring 9:51 into the match, from the right wing. Border accepted an Ensminger feed, shook a defender and whistled a 20-yard right-footer into the upper corner of the short side.

It was a beautiful strike.

Fifteen minutes later – and seconds after the Cougars had hit both posts with the same shot – Hoffsmith struck for the first time, off a corner kick from Colin Wise. Wise’s insert from the left corner sailed all the way through the goal mouth to a waiting Hoffsmith, who headed the ball inside the right post.

IMG_4816“He just makes it happen,” said Hull of Hoffsmith. “He’s just hungry for the ball.

“I had a friend who coaches at Shippensburg, and I got a scouting report on James Buchanan from him,” added Hull. “We made up a game plan from that, and the boys really stuck to it.”

Three minutes after James Buchanan had sliced its two-goal deficit in half, the Cougars tallied their third goal, as Kerr performed the honors.

Frazier had the presence of mind to switch the ball from the right side of the field to the left to Kerr. Going left, Kerr corralled the pass, and with a quick flick, tapped the ball inside the left post.

Hoffsmith made it 4-1 Palmyra with 6:30 of the opening half remaining. From a free kick at the top of the box, Hoffsmith perfectly  placed a shot just inside the right post.

IMG_4862“When you look at our results against Class AA teams, our name was never taken off the table,” said Hull. “So the way we performed against them says who we are. It’s just nice to be able to play here, especially for our seniors. We didn’t make districts two years ago. But any time you can extend your season, it’s huge.

“Yeah, it (qualifying for the playoffs) was close,” continued Hull. “What really helped us is we performed well on Tuesday against C.D.East. We tied them, after having lost to them earlier in the season. That was huge. It essentially secured a spot for us.”

IMG_4790Palmyra scored 45 seconds before halftime, as well as 45 seconds after halftime.

Ahead of the break, Albright simply refused to be denied, scoring while being marked to the ground. He rolled a right-footer into the far-side of the net from 20 yards away.

Hoffsmith completed his hat trick early in the second half. Ensminger uncorked a long restart from the right side of the field, and Hoffsmith ran on to it from the left post, and simply guided it home.

Bowman placed the finishing touches on the route, with his initial tally of the season, courtesy of a penalty kick with 9:13 to go. Bowman’s low shot to the right came to rest in the back of the net.

“We want to keep playing and win districts,” said Hull. “That’s their (his players’) goal.”

 

IMG_4841Final District Three

   Class AA Power Rankings 

  School W L T Rating TWP OWP

1 Lancaster Mennonite 17 0 0 .739222 1.00000 .420492
2 Susquehannock 13 4 0 .695051 .800000 .566780
3 Gettysburg 13 3 0 .689002 .831325 .515051
4 West Perry 15 2 1 .677594 .842697 .475801
5 Fleetwood 12 4 1 .669954 .764706 .554147
6 West York 12 4 1 .645848 .764045 .501384
7 Biglerville 14 4 0 .630445 .775000 .453767
8 East Pennsboro 12 6 0 .628569 .681818 .563487
9 Wyomissing 12 4 2 .593645 .710227 .451155
10 Pequea Valley 12 5 1 .580744 .686813 .451104
IMG_480111 Middletown 12 6 0 .575676 .659574 .473132
12 York Suburban 10 7 0 .564137 .609195 .509066
13 Bishop McDevitt 9 9 0 .563272 .547619 .582403
14 Boiling Springs 7 6 3 .553913 .560976 .545282
15 Eastern Lebanon County 11 6 1 .553137 .633333 .455120
16 Palmyra 7 10 1 .526249 .470588 .594278
17 James Buchanan 8 9 1 .508290 .480769 .541927
18 Lampeter Strasburg 4 11 3 .502668 .392857 .636882
19 Oley Valley 7 9 1 .495509 .429412 .576294
20 Berks Catholic 9 9 0 .492262 .488372 .497016
IMG_475921 Donegal 8 9 1 .483731 .470930 .499377
22 Hamburg 7 10 1 .471056 .409091 .546791
23 Annville Cleona 9 9 0 .470276 .483146 .454545
24 Littlestown 10 8 0 .456313 .528090 .368585
25 Bermudian Springs 8 8 0 .450619 .459459 .439815
26 Milton Hershey 6 11 0 .411083 .348837 .487162
27 Lancaster Catholic 6 12 0 .396141 .322222 .486486
28 Schuylkill Valley 5 11 0 .387164 .306667 .485549
29 Eastern York 4 13 0 .367576 .256098 .503827
30 Susquehanna Township 2 15 0 .355690 .135135 .625257
31 Kennard Dale 3 14 0 .349328 .180723 .555402
32 Susquenita 4 13 1 .345428 .198925 .524487
33 Big Spring 2 14 1 .337527 .149351 .567521
34 Conrad Weiser 2 15 0 .316812 .109756 .569881
IMG_474935 Brandywine Heights 2 14 1 .308962 .129412 .528413
36 Northern Lebanon 3 14 1 .304719 .176136 .461875

 

 

 

 

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