The Elizabethtown Area High School boys soccer team had a tough challenge to face during a recent nine-day stretch. The Bears had three games and an exhibition during the week of Sept. 10, plus a big-time game against a Section Two rival on Tuesday, Sept. 18. They handled McCaskey on Monday, Sept. 10, to start things off and only got better from there, until said rival finally slowed them down.
The team hosted Central Dauphin East in a nonleague bout on Wednesday, Sept. 12. The first half saw both the Bears and Panthers offenses frantically produce shots on goal that were shut down by senior Elizabethtown goalkeeper Brecken Musser and senior CD East goalie Hossam Aly, leading to a scoreless game at halftime.
The second half was much of the same, with some chippiness added in. CD East was penalized with two yellow cards, while Elizabethtown got one as well. The Bears finally got the go-ahead score with 11:30 to go on a header from sophomore David Fry off an assist from senior Evan Schneider. CD East failed to respond afterward, giving Elizabethtown the 1-0 victory. Both Musser and Aly finished the game with 5 saves in the net.
Elizabethtown immediately returned to Jane Hoover Field on Thursday, Sept. 13, to face Garden Spot. Things were going smoothlyfor the Bears early on.
Junior Caleb Gerber found the net for his first score of the year midway through the first half, putting them up 1-0 at the break. In the second, senior Zach Heistand also got his first goal of 2018 off an assist from junior Jake Sevcik.
To their credit, the Spartans did not fold. Junior Giannicola Ferrarelli scored just a couple of minutes after Heistand’s goal tonarrow the gap to 2-1. Then, with just under two minutes to go in regulation, Ferrarelli converted a second kick off a pass from senior Kevin Carvajal to tie things up and send the game to overtime.
However, the Bears were able to escape with a 3-2 win after junior Fabian Beyer found Schneider for a wideopen goal and the win. It was Schneider’s second game winner in OT this season. Amazingly, it could’ve been a different game had Elizabethtown been successful with its 16 shots. Junior Garden Spot goalkeeper Matthew High stopped 13 shots. Conversely, Musser had just one save, though the Spartans only had 3 shots.
In between games, Elizabethtown hosted a friendly exhibition contest with HopewellValley Central from New Jersey on Saturday, Sept. 15. Since the game didn’tcount toward the regular season, head coach James Sostack mixed in some of the junior varsity players during key moments of the game, which was largely scoreless untiljunior Nacho Bartolome scored off a pass from senior Adam Evans with just five minutes left to give the Bears a symbolic 1-0 win.
Lastly, the Bears faced Ephrata in an away tilt on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The winner would take sole possession of first place in Section Two. The Mounts put one up on the scoreboard first, with freshman Angel Gonzalez-Garcia scoring off a pass from junior Brian Barrera midway through the first half. Gerber answered shortly afterward, tying the game at 1-1 all, which held through halftime.
Ephrata seized control early in the second half after Gonzalez-Garcia got his second goal off an assist from senior Ellis Martin. Elizabethtown had numerous chances to tie things up again, including a corner kick with under two minutes to go, but the Mounts defense, led by senior goalkeeper Cole Hummel (13 saves), stopped the Bears at every turn for the 2-1 win. Musser finished the game with 4 saves in the net.
The upcoming schedule for the team is a bit more quiet, though the difficulty won’t be going away either. Elizabethtown (5-2) will have two homes games against Section Two opponents: Lampeter-Strasburg on Thursday, Sept. 20, and Manheim Central on Monday, Sept. 24.