Susquehannock makes 'statement' against Canners
Statement games are becoming the norm for the Susquehannock boys' soccer team.
After entering the season with big expectations, the Warriors spent the early part of their schedule beating traditional York-Adams powerhouses like Gettysburg, Central York and West York. They made another statement against Division III leader Biglerville Saturday, beating the Canners, 4-0.
Still undefeated and atop the YAIAA Division II, Susquehannock (10-0-1, 6-0) is gearing up for another playoff run.
"I told my guys that this was a statement game today because, even though they're not in our division and a smaller school, they have a very good program," Susquehannock coach Bett Maxwell said. "We haven't had that target on our back, this is the first year we've experienced being in that position. It's going to get tougher, but I think our experience is going to bode well for us."
In what was a very physical game, Susquehannock took control of the tempo early and permitted few scoring chances. Senior forward Wes Juarez got the Warriors on the board 10 minutes into the game, ripping a shot from about 10 yards out, and beating Biglerville goalie Noah Mattson.
The Warriors extended their lead with just over eight minutes left in the first half when a Biglerville handball led to a penalty kick, and Joseph Lippy buried the shot. Alex Kettinger and Jason Weger added goals in the second half.
"I think it's good to have people want to beat you because it gives you the intensity to win against them," Juarez said. "I think these games will help us because it prepares us for teams just like them that we're going to see at states."
The Warriors played tremendous team defense as usual, allowing the Canners just two shots and one corner kick. So far this season, Susquehannock has allowed two goals in 11 games.
While senior goalie Aaron Bilbie hasn't been tested often, Maxwell said he's not worried about the goaltender or his defense being unprepared if the Warriors ever do get challenged. Bilbie was in net last season when Susquehannock reached the PIAA semifinals.
"Last year we went through districts and had a nice run in states with pretty even games, where we were on our heels at times," Maxwell said. "We defended well to get to where we needed to be. We have our goalkeeper and three of our four (defenders) back."
While the game was a statement for Susquehannock, it was also a lesson for Biglerville. The Canners (7-2, 6-0 Division III) also have playoff aspirations but struggled to match the Warriors' physical play.
Biglerville head coach Jebb Nelson pointed to the team's 3-2 loss to Gettysburg earlier this season as evidence that the Canners can compete against top competition.
"Some of our guys came ready, some of them didn't get off the bus I don't think," Nelson said. "When we play Gettysburg, everybody knows what's at stake and we step up. For whatever reason, even though we know they beat Gettysburg, the focus wasn't there and I'll put some of the blame on myself."