Highlights of Elco boys soccer's 3-1 loss to Oley Valley in the District 3 Class 2A Quarterfinals. Matt Catrillo/GameTimePA.com
MYERSTOWN – It already had earned a memorable accomplishment winning a section title for the first time in 13 years.
And as it’s been reminisced many times since – the last time Elco was the section champ – it won a state title.
But as with any deep playoff run, the road is never easy, including this year certainly, as the Raiders faced an Oley Valley team that had just won the Berks County Interscholastic Athletic Association championship, and had won 13 of its last 15 after an 0-3 start.
So fast forward to 2016, and unfortunately for the Raiders, they couldn’t find the magic they were looking for, running into the red-hot Lynx and falling 3-1 in the District 3 Class 2A Quarterfinals Saturday at Elco High School.
“It’s always disappointing. We knew it was going to be a tough game though. They’re a good team, they came out and they deserved it,” said Elco coach Kirk Keppley. “Not that it makes it any better, but it’s not like we came out and outplayed them and should’ve won and didn’t. We just ran into a team on fire right now with huge momentum. It slowed us down.”
Dillin Gehris led Oley Valley with a two-goal night.
The Lynx really began pressing late in the first half and finally broke through to take the lead on a goal from Clark Williamson in the 35th minute, assisted by Dominic Capriolo.
Then the Lynx really broke the Raiders back in the final minute of the half, as Gehris scored his first goal with 17 seconds left to make it 2-0 Oley Valley.
But as they have all year, Elco punched back, as Joe Ginder cut the deficit in half in the 42nd minute. Stephen Wiczalkowski had the assist off the corner kick.
“It was just a good ball from Stevie. We were practicing corners all week. I just watched the ball and got lucky. God helped me,” Ginder said. “It shifted the momentum the whole time. We had a good 10-15 minutes after that and we were really battling. I thought we were going to get the equalizer. But that’s the game. That’s how it operates sometimes.”
Elco certainly had plenty of chances, including one from Mason Bennetch shot on goal off a loose ball inside the box that was denied by a diving save from Lynx goalkeeper Austin Himes in the 66th minute.
Then Oley Valley put the game away off Gehris’ second goal with under 10 minutes left.
“We just couldn’t find a way to get the ball in the back of the net a second time. Mason had his chance there, but their defender stuck with him well,” Keppley said. “We were pushing, we had it in our offensive half. We just couldn’t finish it off.”
Though the road didn’t end where the Raiders wanted, you can bet they’ll use this experience to dig deeper in finding the magic of a deep run again.
“The guys want to come next year and repeat in the section, and obviously the goal will be there to do better in leagues and here in districts,” Keppley said. “I think they’ll have that desire. They’ll want to work in the summer and the offseason, and come back to do it again.”