BY JEFF FALK
MYERSTOWN – There is very little question that the regular season was a success. But Elco boys’ soccer years are not judged on the merit of regular seasons.
On Wednesday night at Elco Stadium, the Raiders closed out a very good regular season with a 5-2 Senior Night victory over Lancaster Catholic. Elco scored two goals in the first four minutes of each half, as senior Austin Eldridge and junior Justin Kimmet netted a pair and senior Blaine Troutman was credited with four assists.
The result lifted the Raiders to 12-6 overall and 10-4 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. As the third-place finisher from Section Three, Elco will take on the Section One champion on Saturday at either 10:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. – at a site to be announced – in the opening round of the Lancaster-Lebanon League playoffs.
In the latest District Three rankings, the Raiders were positioned 15th in a Class AA field that takes the top 18 teams for its postseason.
The loss left Lancaster Catholic 5-10 on the fall and 4-9 in the section.
“At the beginning of the season, we were expecting to be a little higher up in the section,” said Elco head coach Kirk Keppley. “But third place isn’t bad. It would’ve been nice to challenge for the section title. I thought we had a pretty good shot at the section. But Annville-Cleona ended up being a little stronger than I thought they would be. The first game against (Lancaster) Mennonite here, things were good. But over there (in Lancaster) it was 5-0, and it wasn’t good.
“I think we’re going to have to elevate our game for the playoffs,” continued Keppley. “The guys need to come out and play a whole game. We can’t sit back. We can’t start slow. The ability is there. Everyone wants to step up, and we need to pick up our game if we want to do something.”
Exactly 2:02 into the contest, Elco got off and winging courtesy of Eldridge. Eldridge finished a give-and-go, give-and-go with senior Ryan Henning.
Eldridge also tallied the Raiders second goal, a mere 1:52 later. Troutman’s well-struck strike from a hard angle got through Lancaster Catholic keeper Drew Jarvi, and Eldridge was there to bang it home.
But Lancaster Catholic sliced its deficit in half, on a Chris Richards tally, in the match’s sixth minute.
“I thought the first goal was just a great cross and a great finish,” said Keppley. “Our area to attack is the outside, because we do have speed. The second goal was just an unselfish play. I thought that goal showed that if the guys play smart, they’re going to be able to do good things.
“In the first four minutes, we came out strong,” added Keppley. “But the one thing that was lacking was going to the ball hard, and being consistent throughout the game. We have yet to put together 80 minutes of soccer. We always seem to start slow, but tonight was just the opposite.”
It was Kimmet’s goal two minutes into the second half which proved to be the game-winner.
From the right wing, Kimmet used his speed to run on to a ball from Troutman. And with his right foot, Kimmet beat Jarvi along the ground to the far post.
Kimmet and Troutman teamed up again 1:19 later to make it a 4-1 Elco lead. Troutman found Kimmet with a short pass, and Kimmet used the outside of his left foot to re-direct the feed into the Crusader net.
“We’ve done well offensively,” said Keppley. “But there are times when we’ve needed goals, and it’s been a struggle to finish. It’s going to be a huge concern come playoff time.
“Tonight was important to get ready for Saturday,” Keppley continued. “We needed to come out and play well. Senior night is always important for the kids. We wanted to have a big game and get focused. Mentally, this put us in a positive direction for Saturday.”
Henning salted away the outcome midway through the second half.
Troutman initiated the play from the right wing, by serving a ball to Eldridge on the left post. Eldridge’s header was on frame, and so was Henning, who ripped the rebound into the back of the net.
“I thing the regular season has been a success,” said Keppley. “There’s one or two games we’d like to have back. We’re almost where we want to be. It’s soccer. It’s the way it goes. I’m pleased. We’re in the league playoffs, and now we have to sit back and wait and see what everyone else does for districts. But we should be in.
“Last year we made a run at things,” Keppley added. “We won a play-in game (in districts) and then beat the number-two seed. We’re kind of in a similar situation. We have the league playoffs first, and it doesn’t really matter who we’re playing because every team is good. We’re hoping to have a good showing. The big thing is to show up and perform well, and if we do, it will carry us into the district playoffs.”
Crusader Richards notched his second goal with 1:51 remaining, against a unit of Raider reserves.
Elco out shot Lancaster Catholic 14-8.
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Section Three Standings
2015 Elco Boys’ Soccer Schedule
|10:00 AM||L 1-2|
|7:00 PM||L 0-1|
|4:00 PM||W 2-0|
|7:00 PM||W 4-2|
|7:00 PM||W 5-1|
|4:00 PM||W 5-4|
|7:00 PM||L 1-2|
|7:00 PM||W 2-1|
|7:00 PM||W 4-0|
|4:00 PM||W 1-0|
|7:00 PM||L 2-4|
|7:00 PM||L 3-4|
|3:00 PM||W 2-0|
|7:00 PM||W 2-0|
|7:00 PM||W 3-2|
|7:00 PM||L 0-5|
|4:00 PM||W 5-1|
|7:00 PM||W 5-2|