Hershey stuns Warwick in District Three pigtail

By on October 28, 2015

 

Warwick senior midfielder Austin Braas (right) battles Hershey’s Marek Mierski for the ball during action last Saturday at Grosh Field. (Photo by Stan Hall)

Warwick senior midfielder Austin Braas (right) battles Hershey’s Marek Mierski for the ball during action last Saturday at Grosh Field. (Photo by Stan Hall)

In the view of Warwick boys soccer coach Travis Steedle, his team’s playoff clashes against Lancaster Mennonite and Hershey were probably the best two games they played all season.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, they got nothing to show for their efforts.

In the L-L League playoff quarterfinals, Warwick took Section Three champ LMH to penalty kicks, where they eventually suffered a 3-2 loss.

Then last Saturday, the Warriors found themselves in an eerily similar situation.

Playing the Trojans in a District Three Triple-A play-in, 16th-seeded Warwick &tstr; like it did against Lancaster Mennonite &tstr; had multiple second-half chances to snap a tie, including two shots off the crossbar. Repeating course from just a week earlier, the game proceeded to OT.

This time, Hershey’s Ryan Sullivan scored his second goal of the game with 6:29 elapsed, lifting the 17th-seeded Trojans to a 2-1 victory at Joseph Grosh Field in Lititz.

While Hershey (13-5-1) advanced to Tuesday’s first-round to face No. 1-seeded Central Dauphin (17-2), Warwick ended its season at 9-7-2.

“We were starting to play at the right time of the year,” Steedle said. “It’s just … the shots didn’t go in. It’s a shame. Both of those games, today and last week, if we could have gotten a lead &tstr; all we’ve got to do is put one in &tstr; defensively I think we were fine.”

It was an emotional finish for both Steedle and his players after reaching the post-season for the first time since the 2011 campaign.

“I could barely talk to them (afterward),” Steedle recalled. “But we talked about how we’re proud of them and it’s been a good season for them to start learning how to win again after three years of losing seasons, and for the seniors, that it was really them who put us in that direction.”

The Trojans had a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks, and they scored on two of those opportunities.

The first of those came with 15:07 elapsed in the opening half, as Sullivan settled the ball at the right post and scored into the corner of the net for a 1-0 lead, which is how it remained at the half.

“For whatever reason, the guy who scored it was unmarked, so it looked like an error on our part, to me,” Steedle remarked.

The Warriors got their first corner with just over a minute elapsed in the second, and then junior Alex Lalovic used his wheels to set up a scoring chance.

“I think it came from somewhere in the midfield, a ball out toward the wing, and Alex ran onto it,” Steedle said. “At halftime, we talked about wanting to get the ball to the wings as much as possible. We thought their outside backs were two that we could get at, whether it was Alex on the left or Jared (Houser) on the right. That was the main focus from us.”

When Lalovic was fouled in the box, Houser took the PK and buried it. Actually, Hershey keeper Alex Morgret got his hands on the ball, but it still managed to spin into the back of the net, tying the game 1-all with 34:04 remaining.

“At first, when I saw it hit the keeper’s hands, I thought he did save it,” Steedle said. “And then afterward, I saw it roll in. It doesn’t matter how it gets in, it’s just got to get in.”

The Warriors ended up holding a 12-7 advantage in shots, and Lalovic came within inches of giving Warwick the lead when he blasted a shot off the crossbar with 19:45 to go.

Against a Hershey team that had lost three straight entering Saturday’s action, taking the lead could have had positive ripple effects for the Warriors.

“From what I’ve heard from a couple other head coaches that they played against is that (Hershey) could get frustrated easily,” Steedle said. “I thought that if we had the opportunity and if we got the lead that we could get them frustrated and they’d start arguing with each other, and hopefully that would have made the game easier for us.”

With 15:30 left, lightning struck twice when a shot by Warrior sophomore Brandon Perezous glanced off the crossbar. In between, WHS senior keeper Eric Myers (5 saves) robbed Ryan LaCoe from close range. Then with less than a minute left, Myers denied Tanner Therit to keep it tied.

In the extra session, Warwick junior midfielder Ethan Price was stopped on the doorstep.

That set the stage for Sullivan’s game-winner with 8:31 to go in the first OT period on a seeing-eye shot which found its way through traffic into the net.

“Hershey was a team that liked to pass the ball. That’s what we’re trying to do too,” Steedle said. “They were a possession team and it was very good composure on both of those goals from (Sullivan). They were fair goals. There was nothing controversial about them or anything.”

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