PALMYRA – To succeed, you’ve got to have a plan. And the best planners allow for the unexpected and unforecastable variables.
Last night, Lower Dauphin caused the Palmyra boys’ soccer team to move on to Plan B.
The Falcons’ 3-0 victory over the Cougars on Tuesday night at In The Net Sports Complex eliminated Palmyra from Mid-Penn Keystone Division contention. But the outcome also allowed the Cougars to turn their full attention to perhaps a more reasonable pursuit, the District Three Class AA tournament.
Lower Dauphin scored goals early and late. And in between, Palmyra experienced difficulties generating any sort of sustained attack on the Falcon net.
The loss dropped Palmyra, which currently stands fifth in the District Three Class AA power rankings, to 10-5 overall and 8-4 in the Keystone Division. It also snapped the Cougars’ five-match winning streak.
Lower Dauphin, which had shut out the Cougars 2-0 in Hummelstown earlier in the season, improved to 12-4 on the fall and 10-2 in the division.
“For us, we were still trying to win the division,” said Palmyra head coach Craig Tyrell. “If we win this game, we feel like we still have a good shot. Right now, with this loss, we’re out of it, barring some sort of miracle.
“Yeah, that’s (districts) our goal now,” added Tyrell. “That’s our target goal. We need to finish out the season first, but I think we can do it.”
Despite playing from behind almost the entire way, the Cougars also played on their heels.
Lower Dauphin grabbed a 1-0 lead 2:03 in when Kevin Mondi served a ball from left to right, and into the top of the box. Falcon teammate Matthew Canis ran on to it and touched it by Cougar keeper Tanner Yow, who came way out of his net to challenge the play.
“It was a couple little mistakes,” said Tyrell. “We dominated the game in terms of possession. If we gave up the ball, we usually got it back. But we weren’t being patient.
“That goal gave them (the Falcons) confidence,” he added.
Despite a near-miss off a Cougar header in the middle of the first half, neither team scored over the next 80 minutes of action. That is until Nick Sincavage gave Lower Dauphin a 2-0 lead with 7:55 to go.
The goal actually resulted from Palmyra botching a direct kick deep in the Falcons’ half of the field. Lower Dauphin turned the misplay into a breakaway for Sincavage, and Sincavage turned Yow inside out by slipping a roller by the diving goalkeeper.
Sam Murray was credited with an assist on the play.
“We’re comfortable with him back there,” said Tyrell of his sophomore net-minder. “He’s got to make some decisions on his own.
“We were kind of hoping as a goal we’d be challenging form the division,” Tyrell continued. “We felt like we could, as long as we could get them playing the right way.”
T.J. Donley’s goal with 3:30 remaining put the outcome out of reach for Lower Dauphin. Unmarked in the middle of the box, and with time to assess the situation, Donley chose to slide a feed from Todd Espenshade with his right foot inside the right post.
With 40 seconds remaining, the Cougars missed out on a chance to avoid the shutout when Robbie Hanosek’s header caromed off the cross bar and over the net.
“That’s actually pretty good,” said Tyrell of his team’s overall record to this point. “The losses we’ve had were tough games in our division. One goal here or there could’ve made a difference.
“I’m proud of them (his players) so far,” Tyrell added. “Hopefully, we’ll be ready to play in districts.”
The final statistics saw Lower Dauphin out shoot Palmyra 11-4. The Falcons took two corner kicks to the Cougars’ none.
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