District 5 Class A boys' soccer: Berlin takes advantage of chances in win over McConnellsburg
LOYSBURG >> It's hard to say that McConnellsburg wasn't the better boys soccer team Tuesday night.
The Spartans controlled possession, out-shot Berlin 22-9 and racked up nine shots on goal. But none of that mattered, as the Mountaineers won where it counted – on the scoreboard.
"When you look at shots and everything, I don't think the better team won, which is probably the reason I won't be able to sleep tonight," Spartan coach Cory Houck said. "The hole that we dug in the first half was too big to overcome."
Berlin scored three goals in the first half and defeated McConnellsburg, 3-1, in the District 5 Class A semifinal to advance to its first championship in school history.
"This is the first time we've gone this far since Berlin has been here," Mountaineers coach Tim Harris said. "The boys deserved it; they played hard all year long. I'm really proud of them."
Right out of the gate, Berlin (14-6) scored on a flukey goal. In the first 40 seconds, Brady Brown snuck in an easy wide-open goal after a ball was mishandled by McConnellsburg keeper Hunter Souders.
By the midway point of the first half, Berlin had added a pair of goals, both of which came on near breakaways. In the 18th minute, Brock Fisher got to a rebound and put it in the back of the net, and a minute and a half later, Turner Paul smacked a shot on a breakaway that hit the crossbar. It bounced right back to him, and he buried it.
"They had some speed on offense, and (Souders) got stuck with a few quick one-on-one breakaways that we didn't pick up," Houck said. "That kind of left Hunter as a sitting duck, but he's played great all season. Their speed just caught us off guard the first half."
Although McConnellsburg trailed 3-0 at halftime, it's safe to say the Spartans still outplayed the Mountaineers in the first half. The only times Berlin was near the Spartan goal, it scored,. And one big challenge for McConnellsburg came in the form of Berlin goalkeeper Marshal Engleka, who piled up eight saves.
"Getting an early lead gives me comfort because I know I can be myself and just get in the flow of the game," Engleka said. "Good coaching has really helped me, and I got a great defensive effort by my front four today. They play their butts off every night, and it shows."
The Spartans also had trouble shooting on target. Eleven of McConnellsburg's shots went high, and three were wide.
"The chances were there," Houck said. "If we could've found the goal on one of those easy shots that we put over the crossbar, it could've been a different game. We may have gotten some momentum going."
Jake Boehme, who scored the Spartans' lone goal of the game off a rebound from his own penalty kick, finished with four shots on goal, Ethan Barclay had two, and Patrick Keefer and Landon Richards each had one.
Despite moving Boehme up to striker and pulling Nic Culler into the midfield after Berlin's second goal, McConnellsburg struggled to make up ground.
"When we pushed Nic Culler up, Justin (Welsh) had a lot more ground to cover, and same with Landon when we pushed Jake into the offense," Houck said. "I thought Landon and Justin, for the space they had, both did a great job once we made the adjustment in the second half, but it was just too late."
Berlin 3 McConnellsburg 1
First half — (B) Brady Brown, 1st min., (B) Brock Fisher, 18th, (B) Turner Paul, 19th.
Second half — (M) Jake Boehme, 64th.
Shots — Ber 9, McC 21; Shots on goal — Ber 5, McC 9; Corner kicks — Ber 1, McC 2; Saves — Ber 8 (Marshal Engleka), McC 2 (Hunter Souders).