Elizabethtown Area High School boys soccer head coach James Sostack has repeatedly said that this is a rebuilding year for the program. Well, the Bears aren’t playing like it. Nearly halfway through the season, they’re in the mix in Section Two of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.
The team went on the road for a non-league game at Central Dauphin East on Wednesday, Sept. 11. There wasn’t much offense between the two sides during the first half, which went scoreless until Bears senior Adam Evans found the net with 10 minutes to go until halftime. Still, Elizabethtown needed to increase its lead in the second half in order to comfortably cruise to the win.
That’s exactly what went down. Right around the midway point of the second, the Bears went on a huge scoring run across four minutes. Freshman Dax Kelly notched his first career varsity goal, followed a minute later by senior Samuel Becker. Evans concluded the onslaught with his second goal of the game, allowing Elizabethtown to ride out the 4-0 victory from there.
Junior Daniel Tema and sophomore Carlton Wise had assists on the day. The Bears held CD East to just 3 shots on goal, all of which were stopped by senior goalkeeper JJ Oberholtzer. Junior Joshua Kimotho had 7 saves for the Panthers.
Elizabethtown had another away game, this time in Section Two, on Thursday, Sept. 12, at Garden Spot. The Bears didn’t take long to get on the scoreboard; just over five minutes into the game, Evans sent a kick past senior Spartans goalie Matthew High to give his team an early advantage, one they would not relinquish.
The rest of the game was a defensive struggle, not helped by a passing rainstorm early in the second half. Elizabethtown once again held the opposition to just 3 shots on goal; Oberholtzer easily stopped all three. However, the Bears only had 7 shots overall, as the Spartans defense stepped up following the early breakdown. High had 6 saves in the net as well. But Garden Spot could not score an equalizer, so Elizabethtown escaped with a slim 1-0 win.
Finally, the Bears hosted Ephrata on Tuesday, Sept. 17. With both teams holding 2-0 section records heading into the game, a win would give them sole possession of first place. The Mounts came out firing early on; after withstanding some Elizabethtown offense, sophomore Caleb Gaston hooked up with fellow sophomore Angel Gonzalez-Garcia for a goal just under seven minutes in.
Elizabethtown did not fade away that easily. Midway through the first, junior David Fry drew a penalty against Ephrata junior Adam Zimmerman, allowing Evans to bury a penalty kick through the net to tie the game at 1-1. Both offenses largely went quiet for the rest of the half, save for a shot from Mounts senior Tyler Shue that went off the crossbar late.
The Bears were also victimized by the crossbar early in the second off a header from senior Caleb Gerber. Oberholtzer was able to stop a breakaway attempt shortly afterward as well. Elizabethtown turned up the heat on offense down the stretch, but sophomore Braeden Sorensen was lights out at goalkeeper for Ephrata, and the game ultimately went to overtime.
Gerber had a golden opportunity to get the game-winner with four minutes left in OT off a beautiful pass from Fry, but Sorensen was in a perfect position to corral the ball, and a second OT would ensure from there. The Bears had a number of chances deterred, including a curling kick from Evans with 20 seconds to go that went just wide of the right goalpost. Thus, the two teams tied 1-1, also staying tied atop Section Two for the time being.
Elizabethtown outshot Ephrata 18 to 6 on the night, with Oberholtzer making 7 saves in the net. Sorensen finished with a whopping 16 saves for the Mounts.
Now 5-2-1 on the season, the Bears will have back-to-back road games to finish out their first run of Section Two games, the first at Lampeter-Strasburg on Friday, Sept. 20, and the second at Manheim Central on Monday, Sept. 23.