Following its loss in the opening game of the season against Penn Manor, the Elizabethtown Area High School boys soccer team was looking to rebound with a string of statement victories. The Bears succeeded in a big way, capturing three straight wins to improve to 3-1 on the year.
The team traveled to Cedar Crest on Thursday, Sept. 6, for its first road game of the season. The Bears made an impact early on offense, with junior Jake Sevcik scoring 12 minutes in off an assist from sophomore David Fry.
Otherwise, it was a defensive battle. Cedar Crest held Elizabethtown to just 4 shots on the night; senior goalkeeper Justin Hilty made 3 saves in the net. However, the Bears defense was simply stifling, holding the Falcons at bay for the majority of the night and allowing no clean shots on goal. Thus, they walked away with a 1-0 victory.
Saturday, Sept. 8, proved to be a much more significant contest. The Bears again went on the road to face Central Dauphin, who upset them in the first round of the District 3 playoffs in 2017. Elizabethtown’s defense held in check for the first 20 minutes of the game before junior Jason Kline barely got a shot past senior goalkeeper Brecken Musser off a pass from senior Preston Harford, putting the Rams up 1-0, a score that held firm at halftime.
Meanwhile, the Bears offense had plenty of scoring opportunities that were thwarted by senior Central Dauphin goalie Carson Etshied. That changed midway through the second half when senior Tyler Bixler converted a penalty kick to tie the game at 1-1 all. Neither team could score again before the end of regulation; Elizabethtown junior Caleb Gerber nearly won the game as time expired but his shot was stopped by Etshied.
In overtime, both teams struggled to mount much offense, mostly due to heads up plays by both goalies. Fortune was on the Bears’ side, however. With two minutes left, the Rams had a prime chance to win the game off a penalty kick. Musser dove the wrong way for the save, but the ball ricocheted back into play off the left goalpost.
Elizabethtown capitalized in style. Senior Evan Schneider took a long pass from Bixler, made a gorgeous move to get by Ethsied and easily put the ball into the net with 1:17 to go for a 2-1 Bears win, avenging last season’s defeat. Musser and Ethsied each had 7 saves each in the net.
The Bears stayed away from home on Monday, Sept. 10, in a game against McCaskey. This time, they didn’t wait until the second half to score. Schneider found the net 10 minutes into the game, followed later by another score from senior Jon Gartley. Sevcik then scored off a pass from junior Adam Evans to give Elizabethtown a threescore advantage, though junior Peter Chol scored off an assist from junior Luis Mendoza to narrow the gap to 3-1 before halftime.
Five minutes into the second half, however, Schneider got his second goal to put the game out of reach. The Bears eventually prevailed by a score of 4-1. Musser stopped 2 of the 3 Tornado shots. Goalkeeper Max Brewster had 6 saves for McCaskey.
With three road victories in the bag, Elizabethtown is now scheduled to face another difficult slate. The Bears are set to have back-to-back home games against Central Dauphin East on Wednesday, Sept. 12, and Garden Spot on Thursday, Sept. 13. They’ll then be apart of a boys-girls doubleheader at home on Saturday, Sept. 15, against Hopewell Valley Central from New Jersey. Finally, they’ll go back on the road on Tuesday, Sept. 18, to face Section Two rival Ephrata.