After a scrimmage that coach James Sostack said he was “disappointed” in and a 3-1 loss in a scrimmage to nationally ranked Lower Dauphin, the Elizabethtown boys soccer team rebounded well against Dallastown.
The Bears defeated the visiting Wildcats, 1-0, in their season opener on Friday, Sept. 1.
“I’m pleased with the performance. A win is a win. There was a lot of pressure, I think, on the boys to produce in the first game. Overall, I’m very pleased,” Sostack said.
The shutout was recorded by goalie Cole Baker, rather than fellow goalkeeper Austin Denlinger who will be out 2-4 weeks due to a partially torn medial collateral ligament. Denlinger said that he suffered the MCL injury while taking a swing in the batting cage.
Baker recorded six saves and handled Dallastown’s only corner kick.
“I thought he did a great job,” Sostack said of Baker. “We’re very lucky to have a couple of keepers that I think are excellent. We certainly had some confidence in Cole. He’s proven himself in practice and it was nice to see him get a clean sheet. He probably wanted to get that game under his belt as well.”
Adan Cabrera-Perez nearly came away with Elizabethtown’s first goal of the season when he sent one off the post that bounced tantalizingly close to the goal line. Jared Kiess attempted to finish, but his shot went over the crossbar.
The eventual game-winning goal game off the boot of Braden Kreider. David Shank controlled the ball to the right of the goal before cutting back inside of a Dallastown defender. He then sent a low, driven ball to Kreider that he put just above the goalie’s reach for the first goal of the season.
“It was good combination work. Obviously Brady [Kreider] and David have chemistry so they’re reading off of each other. That tandem should score goals,” Sostack said.
While he was happy to see Kreider’s shot hit the back of the net, Sostack said that there were several other opportunities that he would have liked to see be finished.
“Honestly, before that, we saw a number of misses and miscues and we have to clean up the mess so that we’re not put in a position where we are giving a team hope by only being 1-0 down,” Sostack said.
In the second half, Dallastown brought a more threatening offensive attack and tested Baker for the first time, but the Elizabethtown defense did not give up any golden opportunities.
Aiden Grey Fertich and Colin Wieand were Elizabethtown’s two center defensive backs and each played their role confidently. Wieand was a force when it came to 50/50 balls in the air. Whether it was battling for possession or corner kicks, Wieand was often the one that won possession.
“I thought Colin and Grey were excellent in the back as well as David Buckwalter. Chris Gartley, I mean, he went all the way to the state finals as a sophomore playing in that position and I think he played an amazing game.”
Gartley was playing left outside back for the Bears.
The best scoring opportunity of the second half came from Kiess when he barely put one above the crossbar. Following several substitutions to bleed out the clock, Elizabethtown secured the 1-0 victory.
Applying the system that the team works on in its training sessions to the live games has been the area that Sostack wants to see the team improve the most.
“I don’t think that we really saw it. Again, we keep going back to our old pattern. I’m pleased with the win and I think the hustle was great. Credit to Dallastown, but we know that we have to execute the new style of possession if we’re going to be a serious threat,” Sostack said.
While Sostack would like to see the team embrace the new system that he is trying to install, he feels that the team can be very versatile with several other systems that can be played at a high level.
“We’ve got three or four cards in our deck. It doesn’t matter if you scout us because you don’t know what we’re going to come out with. We’ve got a lot of formations, but I’m pleased. If they switch over, I think by the end of the season we’re hoping that we’ll get that momentum to where we can really solidify just one formation that we do well,” Sostack said.