District 3 soccer: Cumberland Valley boys and girls knock off Elizabethtown
HERSHEY - Locked in a tie game deep in the second half, James Sostack and the rest of Elizabethtown's coaching staff were ready to pull the proverbial trigger on a formation change they hoped would result in a game-winning finish.
Problem was, they never got the chance. And there was a valid reason why.
Cumberland Valley wouldn't allow it.
Holden Zimmerman's headball marker with 9:13 to play snapped a late deadlock and propelled Cumberland Valley to a 2-1 victory over an Elizabethtown side that fended off numerous challenges before surrendering a season-ending score in a taut District 3 Class AAA boys' soccer quarterfinals Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium.
Angel Esquivias also connected for Matt Billman's Eagles (17-2-1), who will return to Hersheypark Stadium for Tuesday night's semifinal round and a date with a Lower Dauphin club that blanked Wilson 2-0 in another quarterfinal-round scrap.
CV also locked up a berth in next month's PIAA Class AAA tournament.
Valiant Elizabethtown (16-2-2), which packed six sophomores into its youthful starting 11 and spent most of the chilly night on the backpedal defensively, was able to pull even with 10:11 gone in the second half on Grey Fertich's penalty kick.
Sostack's Bears never had another clean look at goal.
"That's a credit to a really good team," Sostack admitted. "You don't get time on the ball when you're being pursued. They not only have great athleticism and great strength, but they're a very fast team and (they're) very well-coached. But obviously for us, it was the best team we've seen all season.
"Again, I have 15-16-year-olds [in my lineup]," added Sostack, who piloted the Bears to the Lancaster-Lebanon League's Section 2 crown. "Their coach was surprised at the end of the game when I told him I sometimes have seven sophomores out there. So, it's good for us. It's good for our program."
Yet with time winding away - and despite CV's continuing ability to maintain possession of the ball and spend loads of time in the Elizabethtown end - Sostack & Co. were ready to move sophomore center back David Shank forward in an effort to snap the 1-1 deadlock and chase a go-ahead goal.
Shank and fellow defenders Fertich, Tommy Block and Colin Wieand - Wieand moved to left back when Adan Cabrera-Perez was shifted into an attacking midfield role - were under duress throughout. So was holding midfielder Jordan Ingham.
"They had a unique system and we trained a little with that, with the two guys kind of holding back," Cumberland Valley head coach Matt Billman said. "I thought we had a lot of success getting in; we had trouble finding that second one.
"The first one I was pleased with," Billman added, referring to Esquivias' goal. "One little mental breakdown and another little mental breakdown and, all of a sudden, they get a free kick from 12 yards. And that always gets dicey.
"I thought they made some things difficult with what they were doing."
Yet when Selkirk was able to find some space near the right end line - and Zimmerman made a run through the penalty area - the CV senior spotted his teammate in front and uncorked a quick, accurate service.
Zimmerman merely nodded it home.
Although unable to mount a consistent attack against Cumberland Valley's pressure, Block was standing over a restart some 45 yards out with some two minutes to play. His well-struck freebie was headed for the mixer in the penalty area - with enough E-town bodies in place to make something happen - but freshman keeper Matt Zambetti (0 saves) went airborne to bring the ball down.
Sostack's Bears never had another chance.
CV was able to grab the lead with 6:31 gone in the opening half, using good ball movement across the 18 during which the ball moved quickly from Gerry Garcia to Stephen Thompson to Esquivias near the right edge of the box.
The Eagles had another look later in the half, but Thompson's roller was handled by sophomore netminder Austin Denlinger (1 save).
Until Fertich hovered over the penalty spot in the second half, the Bears hadn't uncorked a shot on goal. They didn't get one after that either.
CV, aside from a pair of cautions that came right before E-town's marker and right after, was that much in control.
"We were counting on, if we could get a goal back on them, that because they were dominating us so much they actually might get frustrated and play into that frustration," Sostack admitted. "Sure enough, we were starting to see some of that, but to their credit they settled back down. They got back to business.
"I told (Cumberland Valley afterward), 'Go ahead and win this for District 3. Win that state title. At the end of the day, just bring that trophy back to our district.'"
CV CAPTURES GIRLS' GAME, TOO: Sam Perry and Rachael Dorwart pocketed finishes - one in each half - while Sydney Bruckner and Kimberly Lyons combined for three saves as top-seeded Cumberland Valley (21-0-0) blanked Elizabethtown 2-0 in the front end of the Hersheypark Stadium twinbill.
Saturday night's victory earned George Gemberling's Eagles a return trip to Hersheypark Stadium for Tuesday night's District 3 AAA semifinals opposite Mid-Penn Commonwealth playmate Cedar Cliff. Game time is 5:30.
Cedar Cliff blanked Hershey 1-0 at Cedar Crest's Earl Boltz Stadium.
Cumberland Valley's latest victory also propelled the Eagles into next month's PIAA Class AAA playoffs - regardless of what happens in Tuesday's semi.
Carlee Reed finished with five saves for Elizabethtown (18-4-1), the Lancaster-Lebanon League's tournament champions.
Cumberland Valley 2, Elizabethtown 1 (boys)
E'town 0 1 — 1 CV 1 1 — 2
Scoring — 1. CV-Angel Esquivias (Stephen Thompson), 6:31; 2. E-Grey Fertich (penalty kick), 50:11; 3. CV-Holden Zimmerman (Josiah Selkirk), 70:47.
Shots on goal — E 1, CV 4.
Corners — E 1, CV 11.
Saves — E (Austin Denlinger-1), CV (Matt Zambetti-0)
Cumberland Valley 2, Elizabethtown 0 (girls)
E'town 0 0 — 0 CV 1 1 — 2
Scoring— 1. CV-Sam Perry (Jenny Bail), 3:35; 2. CV-Rachael Dorwart (Paige Geatz), 71:15.
Shots on goal — E 3, CV 7.
Corners — E 1, CV 5.
Saves — E (Carlee Reed-5), CV (Sydney Bruckner-2, Kimberly Lyons-1).