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IMG_3863 BY JEFF FALK

MYERSTOWN – Playoffs are a reward, something to be aspired to and earned. In the cut-throat, bottom line portion of scholastic sports, they are earned on fields, and on scoreboards.

This concept of ‘deserving teams not make the postseason’ simply doesn’t exist.

On Wednesday night under the lights of  Elco Stadium, the hometown Raiders found the harsh reality of the girls’ soccer world to be a bitter bill to swallow. With its fate seemingly in its own hands on Senior Night against an opponent it had already defeated, Elco couldn’t get it done and fell to Lancaster Catholic 2-1 in the scheduled regular-season finale for both sides.

IMG_3845Approaching the contest like it needed a win to qualify for the District Three Class AA postseason, Elco yielded the decisive goal with 13:25 remaining.

The Raiders, who entered the fray ranked 19th in a Class AA field which takes 18 teams for its tournament, slipped to 9-8 overall and 8-6 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Lancaster Catholic, which had fallen to Elco 4-1 in Lancaster on September 18, improved to 5-12-1 on the fall and 4-9-1 in the section.

“I definitely think we left some games get away this season,” said Elco head coach Derek Fulk. “Are we deserving to be in? Probably yes. But you’ve got to play every game.

IMG_3759“I think we’re capable of being a good team,” continued Fulk. “We show, at times, signs of being a good team. Do we do it every night? No. Tonight we weren’t very good. That’s the way it goes.”

With the score tied at one, Lancaster Catholic netted the game-winner when it was opportunistic when Elco wasn’t aggressive about clearing a dangerous ball in its box.

Played into the crease by Crusader Georgie Boyd, Catholic’s Morgan Ernst pounced on the ball on the Raider right post. Ernst wasted little time, spinning and uncorking a right footer into the short side.

IMG_3809“I don’t know if it was a foul or not,” said Fulk of contact on the winning goal. “He (the official) said there was nothing there. We got to the ball, but we didn’t get it cleared. And the next thing you know it was in the net. It was just like the first goal.

“I thought we could’ve cleared the ball or our keeper could’ved got it,” added Fulk. “Their kid won it and scored.”

Down a first-half goal at the break, the Raiders tied the score 2:39 into the second half. On the second of two consecutive corner kicks by Kaela Gettle from the left, Elco’s Meredith Balsbaugh controlled a bouncing ball ten yards out.

IMG_3830Cool as a cucumber, Balsbaugh calmly slid a low ball inside the left post.

“It was a corner kick,” said Fulk. “The ball got deflected around and Meredith finished it nicely. It was one of the few times we went hard to the ball and went through the ball, and it went into the net.

“I’m sure they’re (his players) upset,” Fulk continued. “They’re probably more upset they didn’t give their best effort, knowing everything was at stake. We told them after the game ‘You don’t get these games back.'”

Lancaster Catholic grabbed a 1-0 lead 4:51 into the match on a ball played into the box by Emily Eicenlaub that didn’t appear all that dangerous. But Crusader Brynn Kelly forced the issue, applied pressure to the Raiders defense and was credited with the goal.

IMG_3768“I don’t think we played very well at all,” said Fulk. “I don’t know if it was the pressure of  knowing we needed to win. I can’t explain it. Going into this week, were were 19th in the power rankings (in District Three Class AA), and 18 get in. We figured with two wins, we’d get in. And yeah, the girls knew it.

“The only thing I can think of is that we knew we had to win,” Fulk added. “No, I don’t think there was a sense of urgency. They (his players) didn’t seem jittery or anxious before the game. Once we got down 1-0, it  looked like we were in panic mode.”

IMG_3836Raider goalkeeper Emma Strickler had kept the Raiders’ deficit at one with 9:15 remaining in the first half, with a rare two saves on one Crusader shot. Strickler got her gloves on an in-close blast from a Crusader attacker, and when the ball squirted behind her towards the left post, she made another sprawling save to keep the ball from crossing the goal line.

The play represented two of the six saves Strickler made on the night, as her Raiders out shot Lancaster Catholic 11-8. Elco won the corner kick war by an 8-3 count.

“You go through the plethora of emotions,” said Fulk. “It’s very frustrating for us. Knowing what this team is capable of is the most frustrating part.

“With the quality of seniors we lost from last year, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen this year,” concluded Fulk. “I thought it might be a little bit of a building year. I thought we’d have quality coming back, but I though it would take some time to jell. Then we ran into the injury bug. But we got a lot of young kids experience, for sure.”

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 Lancaster-Lebanon League

 Final Section Three Standings

TEAM LEAGUE OVERALL
Donegal 14-0 16-2
Lancaster Mennonite 9-4-1 10-6-2
Pequea Valley 7-5-1 8-8-1
Elco 8-6 9-8
Annville-Cleona 7-7 11-7
Lancaster Catholic 4-9-1 6-11-1
Northern Lebanon 3-11 4-13
Lebanon Catholic 1-11-1 3-13-1

 

IMG_3832District Three

 Class AA Power Rankings 

School W L T

1 Manheim Central 12 2 2 .718418
2 Susquehannock 12 2 0 .717261
3 Donegal 14 2 0 .660746
4 Fleetwood 11 4 1 .649603
5 Conrad Weiser 11 5 0 .639295
6 Greencastle Antrim 9 3 1 .638559
7 Northern York 9 5 1 .635052
8 Middletown 10 4 0 .632657
9 Boiling Springs 9 4 0 .613882
10 York Suburban 11 5 0 .606110
11 Northeastern 9 7 0 .598217
IMG_378612 East Pennsboro 10 4 0 .586867
13 Schuylkill Valley 11 6 0 .580351
14 Bishop McDevitt 6 8 0 .556691
15 Lancaster Mennonite 9 5 2 .548814
16 Eastern York 8 8 0 .546420
17 Berks Catholic 9 7 1 .527815
18 Twin Valley 7 8 1 .527731
19 Eastern Lebanon County 8 7 0 .504520
20 James Buchanan 7 9 0 .483558
21 Pequea Valley 7 7 1 .471172
22 Oley Valley 7 7 1 .466804
23 Gettysburg 4 9 0 .438200
24 West Perry 5 9 0 .435432
IMG_386725 Susquehanna Township 3 11 0 .434693
26 Brandywine Heights 5 8 3 .407371
27 Milton Hershey 2 11 1 .345599
28 Lancaster Catholic 3 12 1 .345106
29 Bermudian Springs 3 9 1 .343161
30 Littlestown 4 10 0 .336073
31 Hamburg 2 13 1 .331107
32 Northern Lebanon 3 12 0 .324339
33 West York 1 13 0 .321162
34 Big Spring 2 11 0 .317001
35 Kennard Dale 0 11 0 .263898
36 Susquenita 1 14 0 .261851

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