Boys' soccer team can't get past South Park in high scoring state tourney match

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ALTOONA - It was far from the start of a state tournament semifinals game one would expect and in the end it was not the result the Susquehannock Warriors were hoping for when the final horn sounded.

The Warriors saw their season come to an end on Tuesday in the PIAA Class AA semifinals with a 4-2 loss to the South Park Eagles at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona. It was the second time in the last four days the Warriors made the nearly three hour trip to Altoona for a tournament game.

South Park will face Lewisburg — which beat Northwestern Lehigh 3-0 in Tuesday's other Class AA semifinal — on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Hersherpark Stadium with the state championship in the balance.

Tuesday's 80-minute contest opened up much differently than the Warriors quarterfinals win on Saturday. It took a little over five minutes for the opening goal to be scored Tuesday and the two teams tallied a combined five goals in the first 20 minutes of action.

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“Teams that usually make it this far are teams that keep goals per game at like, zero,” Warriors forward Luke Thomas said about the high-scoring affair. “Maybe one goal a game and that’s how you move on, but to have a score 4-2 in state semifinals game is kind of ridiculous. I mean everyone was nervous to play, but it’s still kind of ridiculous. It’s crazy.”

Susquehannock head coach Brett Maxwell also expressed his surprise over the high volume of goals.

“This game went completely different than I expected,” he said. “I expected it to be a defensive game. Both teams struggling to find the net and then there were five goals scored in the first 20 minutes. It was kind of a shocker coming out.”

The goal scoring started at the 34:21 mark with the Warriors jumping on the scoreboard first. A throw-in by Stephen Rouse went flying into the penalty area. Thomas was able to get it and he gave Susquehannock the 1-0 lead. The Eagles answered back moments later when Nick Schwarzel was able to get behind the Warriors’ defenders and score on a one-on-one with the keeper.

Susquehannock quickly regained the lead after another Rouse throw-in went sailing into the box and was headed into the net by a South Park player. However, the Warriors’ lead didn’t last long, as South Park’s Christian Payne was able to corral a loose ball in the penalty area and tie the game at 2-2.

Payne found the back of the net again at 19:38 to give the Eagles the 3-2 lead and a goal 46 seconds into the second half sealed the win for South Park.

The loss was a disappointing one for the Warriors, but Maxwell was proud of his team for battling all the way until the end. Susquehannock did not have too many lanes to work with in the second half, however, late in the game they began to generate chances in the Eagles end.

“The last 20 minutes, especially, I’m real proud of the way the guys played and gave it a shot,” Maxwell said. “Down two goals late, it’s easy to lay down, but they really fought hard for the last 20 minutes of the game. We came out strong in the beginning. We had some periods where we really controlled the play, but we also had some lapses and they took advantage of those opportunities.”

The Warriors finish the year 18-8 and likely opened some eyes during the course of the season. Susqeuhannock felt they flew under the radar to start the 2015 season.

“It was really only the team and our parents that really thought we could do something this year,” Thomas said.

He doesn’t feel that the Warriors will be as underrated when next season begins.

“A lot of people stepped up this year, so I know that next year’s team isn’t going to be a pushover that’s for sure,” Thomas said.

South Park 4, Susquehannock 2
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First Half -  1. Sus, Luke Thomas (Kaleb Lippy), 34:21. 2. SP, Nick Schwarzel (Christian Payne), 29:10. 3. Sus, Own goal, 27:54. 4. Christian Payne (unassisted), 21:43. 5. Christian Payne (Unassisted), 19:38. 
Second Half - 6. SP, Ty Brdar (unassisted), 39:16.  
Shots on goal - SP 11, Sus 5; Corners - SP 2, Sus 4; Goalies - SP, Ted Cecotti (3saves), Sus, Aaron Bilbie (7 saves).

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