Reed’s OT goal boosts Barons to District finals

By on November 1, 2017
Manheim Central’s Gareth Kemp (34), Zach Reed (12) and Carson Brenize (24) react after the Barons took a 1-0 lead in the District quarterfinals against Susquehannock last Wednesday on Brenize’s first-half goal. Photo by Steve Heydt

Manheim Central’s Gareth Kemp (34), Zach Reed (12) and Carson Brenize (24) react after the Barons took a 1-0 lead in the District quarterfinals against Susquehannock last Wednesday on Brenize’s first-half goal. Photo by Steve Heydt

One more chance

That’s all Zach Reed wanted.

The Manheim Central junior saw a scoring opportunity go by the wayside late in regulation with the 7th-seeded Barons battling No. 3 Greencaste-Antrim in a 2-2 tie in the District Three Triple-A semi-finals.

But it wouldn’t happen twice.

With 5:21 left in OT, Reed took a pass from Gareth Kemp and ripped a shot into the upper right corner, giving the Barons a 3-2 win Monday night at Lower Dauphin Middle School and lifting them into the District finals. It was Reed’s second of the night.

“When I looked up and saw it going top corner, I was like, ‘Holy crap, this is about to happen,’” Reed said. “I was a little ticked at myself (late in the game) for not putting one in and putting the game away.”

That shot sent the Barons back to the finals for the first time since 2006, when they topped Hershey 2-1 in OT for the Double-A title. The Central boys, who are also headed to States for the first time since 2007, will play top-seeded Lower Dauphin (20-2-1) in Thursday’s championship game at Hersheypark Stadium at 5:30 p.m.

“It’s amazing,” Reed said. “It’s amazing for everybody. Everybody’s partying right now. It means the world to everybody.”

“It’s crazy,” added keeper Mason Nissley, who had a big game with five saves. “I’m so happy. It’s just so much fun playing soccer.”

The Central boys (13-5-2) were having so much fun while taking a 2-0 first-half lead, but it didn’t last. The Blue Devils (17-4-1).countered with two goals of their own, tying it on a goal by Brandon Stuhler with 26:42 to play in the second.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling that our whole team is going through right now because we were up 2-0, they came back 2-2 and honestly we were surviving there for a while,” MC coach Rod Brenize said. “Nissley made a couple of incredible saves, our defense came up big a couple times, and then I think at some point late in the second half of regulation, momentum switched.”

All the momentum belonged to Manheim Central in the opening half, as a Baron cross came in front, where a Blue Devil defender cleared it, but right to Carson Brenize, who scored with 30:51 left on the clock to put the Barons up 1-0.

Just over six minutes later, Reed doubled the advantage, taking the ball down the left wing, and then beating Greencastle keeper Bryson Robinson into the lower right corner for a 2-0 lead.

“Zach put an unbelievable game together,” Brenize said.

So did Nissley, who robbed Stuhler on a 1v1 with 22:43 left in the half to keep the Blue Devils off the scoreboard. It was the first of two times that Nissley stopped Stuhler from point-blank range.

“That felt really good because (Stuhler) was maybe talking a little bit of crap,” Nissley smiled. “It was fun to save him. It’s fun to save any ball.”

But over the final 13 minutes of the half, the Blue Devils started swarming, getting a pair of corner kicks and then connecting when Jason Freeman found the back of the net, on an assist from Kaleb Hurley, with 8:30 to play in the half.

For the game, Greencastle had a 5-3 edge in corner kicks, but both teams had seven shots.

It remained a 2-1 game at the break, but G-A continued to pressure early in the second, and with 13:18 elapsed, Stuhler’s tally tied it 2-all.

Eventually, as Brenize noted, the momentum switched back in favor of the Barons, who got back-to-back corners at the 13:45 mark. Following another huge save by Nissley against Stuhler, Reed was stopped by Robinson (3 saves) and then Hunter Hess’ header was denied in the final seconds on a nice feed from Brenize.

“We had two really good chances in, like, the last two minutes,” coach Brenize said. “I thought Carson and Gareth played unbelievable games, Mason Nissley played an unbelievable game. I thought our whole defense — Chase Caterbone, James Bright, Sam Tobias really stepped up, Mavrick King really stepped up. I’m so proud of these guys and really happy for them.”

Both teams had opportunities in the extra-session, but Reed’s team-leading 16th goal of the season, on a feed from Kemp, was the golden goal.

“To be honest, all I can remember is Gareth got the ball, he played it to me and I just took a whack at it,” Reed recalled. “I mean, Gareth played a perfect ball right through and I just took one touch and took a hit.”

One of those who sprinted to congratulate him was Nissley from the opposite end of the field.

“Honestly, I didn’t think the shot was going in,” Nissley said, “and then I saw it and I was like, ‘Let’s go,’ and I just ran and gave him a big bear hug. It was great.”

Last Thursday at Hersheypark Stadium, Carson Brenize and Zach Reed scored goals to boost the Barons to a 2-0 win over No. 2-seeded Susquehannock in the District Three quarterfinals.

“I just asked our guys why we won that game,” Baron coach Rod Brenize remarked. “It’s because there were 30 guys on our bench giving everything physically, psychologically, and emotionally for 80 minutes. Everything. And I think we got the result we deserved.”

Although Susquehannock outshot the Barons 9-8 in the game, keeper Mason Nissley stopped all nine shots he faced to record his fourth straight shutout.

“I give credit to seven teams right now,” Brenize said. “Their names are E-town, Ephrata, Lampeter-Strasburg, Cocalico, Garden Spot, Cedar Crest and Solanco. I give credit to them because we had those seven teams (in L-L Section Two) to make us stronger. (Susquehannock) did not have those seven teams. I thought when we got in a fight, we had an experience. Our whole year has been 1-0 games.”

Carson Brenize’s tally with 10:57 left in the first half gave the MC boys a lead they never lost.

“We said the secret was that we had to do just enough offensively to make them feel threatened, that if they threw massive numbers forward, we were going to be in trouble,” coach Brenize said. “That put us on the board and established the fact that we have an offensive presence and we can do just enough offensively to keep their attention.”

The Warriors (20-2), though, had MC’s attention with several opportunities in the second half, including a dangerous chance in the final minute with the ball pinballing in front of Nissley. But the Baron keeper and his defense stood tall, and when Reed countered with a 1v1, scoring on his own rebound with just :12 seconds remaining, the win was sealed.

“James Bright had an amazing game, Mavrick King played his butt off and Nissley played outstanding,” Brenize said. “And my guys on the wings, Sam (Tobias) and Chase (Caterbone), I thought they were on their A-games too.”

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