Elizabethtown boys soccer came into the matchup against Manheim Central trailing first-place Ephrata by two games, which meant a victory would over the Barons have been very helpful in their quest to win the Section Two title.
On a night that forced coach James Sostack to break out his gloves, the Bears (10-2-1, 7-2-1) had to fall back on the lively atmosphere at Jane Hoover Field on Monday, Oct. 2, after falling behind in the 10th minute.
Gareth Kemp, a Manheim Central (7-4-2, 5-4-1) midfielder, dribbled his way around three Bears defenders before he fired a shot at starting goalie Cole Baker. The shot was deflected to Baker’s left, but no Bear was around to clean up the deflection and Manheim Central took an early 1-0 lead.
“I was disheartened that we gave up such a quick and relatively soft goal. Hats off, they pressed us and they got the first goal,” Sostack said.
In the 15th minute, Adan Cabrera-Perez (above) raced into the Barons’ 18-yard box and drew a foul. Fellow senior Braden Kreider stepped to the line looking for goal No. 10 on the season and the game’s equalizer. Kreider’s shot was low and to the left, but that is exactly where the Manheim Central keeper went as well.
The Barons carried that 1-0 lead into halftime, but there were several chances for both sides that came and went with the momentum each side possessed.
“We preach to these boys that Manheim is going to be mentally prepared for us. It’s probably our toughest rivalry,” Sostack said.
Austin Denlinger took over in goal for the Bears at the beginning of the second half. He didn’t have to wait long for the Bears to even the game up.
In the 43rd minute, the Manheim Central goalie lined up for a goal kick that went awry for the Barons. The kick never left the ground and found David Shank’s feet. Shank took a touch and confidently put the shot past the sliding keeper to tie the game at 1-1.
Neither side was able to find the back of the net in regulation and the Bears found themselves in an overtime game for the second time this season.
For the first nine minutes of the first overtime period, neither side was able to put considerable pressure on the other. Then, with about 30 seconds left, the Bears’ defense was disorganized long enough for the Barons to get a clean shot at the goal. The shot, however, sailed over the crossbar and the teams were heading to the second overtime.
Colin Wieand, Cabrera-Perez and Kreider each had shots, but they and their teammates couldn’t find a winner.
“I thought that we showed character. I thought we created a lot of opportunities. It’s sort of been one of those things this season where finding that final touch has been elusive. We find it in spurts, but we need to be more consistent,” Sostack said.
The Bears fired 18 shots (11 on goal) and generated seven corner kicks. When taking into account their position in the standings, inconsistent finishing and the tie, Sostack said that he wasn’t happy with the result because of where the Bears are trying to go.
“We’re chasing a section championship. We already needed help so obviously it was a disappointment for myself and the players simply because there were periods of the game where we dominant, but I could be bias in that perspective,” Sostack said. “A tie didn’t do them any good and a tie was devastating for us because we were hungry to get a section title. We’re still alive and stranger things have happened in high school soccer so we’ll see where the chips fall and we’ll take care of our own business.”
Elizabethtown’s next home game is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 6, against Cedar Crest (6-8, 2-8). Following the game against the Falcons, the Bears have two scheduled games remaining at Solanco (1-13, 1-10) on Monday, Oct. 9, and the regular season finale at home against Ephrata (13-0, 10-0) on Wednesday, Oct. 11.