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Pa. all-stars go 2-0 in Four Diamonds soccer event

GREENCASTLE -- As usual, the real winner was the Four Diamonds Fund.

Although Pennsylvania was the victor in both games Wednesday night at the Four Diamonds All-Star Soccer event at Greencastle-Antrim's Kaley Field, the money raised -- nearly $1,100 -- will go to the Four Diamonds Fund in support of youth cancer treatment.

The Pa. girls claimed a 3-1 victory in the first game, while the boys representing Franklin and Fulton Counties put up a 4-1 victory over the Washington County, Md. team.

"It was really fun, and it was great because it's such a good cause," said Chambersburg forward Erik Espinoza, who scored the final two goals to nail down the boys win.

Fun seemed to be recurring theme.

"This was a blast," Pa. boys coach Cory Houck of McConnellsburg said.

Maryland boys coach Chris Downs of Williamsport said, "It's great for us to get all of our best players in one place -- I wish we could do a seven-game tour. We had a lot of fun."

It was not so much fun for Maryland girls coach Rick Aleshire at first -- he found out the day of the game that eight of his players had decided not to play because of other commitments.

"We were calling around to find some other players," he said. "Some girls had track or basketball going on and didn't want to get hurt."

Maryland showed up with eight players, so McConnellsburg's Alexis Mellott and Hannah McGarvey, and Sarah Lyman of Mercersburg Academy switched over to give them 11. The game was shortened to 30-minute halves.

Aleshire said, "Kudos to those three girls for helping us out. I think once we got used to each other, we played much better."

Isabella Weigel of Chambersburg scored both of her team's goals in the first half, when Pa. owned much of the possession. The first came after a pass from Kayla Snider of James Buchanan, and the second was on a solo raid down the left flank.

Weigel made it 3-0 in the second half after she stripped a last-line defender of the ball and beat the keeper 1v1.

Asked if that was one of the easier goals she'd scored, Weigel said, "Probably, but I've done that a few times before."

Pa. coach Brian Fisher of Waynesboro said, "The girls are very talented and played a good game. We were able to create some good chances."

"It was a lot of fun and a really good experience," Weigel said. "And they played us pretty even considering."

The boys game was fairly even on the stat line, but Pennsylvania made the best of its chances.

Downs said, "It didn't seem like a 4-1 game, and I thought both teams played at a pretty high level."

Fannett-Metal's Layton Hoffmann headed in the first goal of the boys game, but it was countered by a strike from North Hagerstown's Alimzhan Yakhuzov to make it 1-1 at halftime.

The tie was broken 11 minutes into the second half when a throw-in by McConnellsburg's Jake Boehme was headed in by Greencastle defender Ryan Yoder to put Pa. up 2-1.

Espinoza took care of adding insurance. He made it 3-1 with a slick back heel of a loose ball that was sitting in the box.

"I saw the goalkeeper and a defender were both on one side of the goal, so I just used my natural instincts," said Espiinoza, who said he's never scored on a back heel except playing indoors.

He added the final goal when the ball popped free of the Md. defense and he ripped in an uncontested shot. Defender Jeremy Crouse of Shippensburg also helped his team by clearing a ball that was goal-bound out of danger.

Houck said, "I thought the guys gelled really well for not having played together. I did try to keep guys from the same school together to help with the chemistry. I don't see many games played on turf and that was pretty cool."


Pennsylvania 3, Maryland 1

Maryland_     0_     1_ —  _1

Pennsylvania_      2_     1_ —  _3

First Half — (Pa) Isabella Weigel (Kayla Snider), 16th min.; (Pa) Weigel, 24th.

Second Half — (Pa) Weigel, 41st, (Md) Olivia Baylog, 52nd.

Shots — Md 5, Pa 11; Shots on goal -- Md 2, Pa 5; Corners — Md 1, Pa 2; Saves — Md 2 (Leslie Mills), Pa 1 (Taylor Welty).


Pennsylvania 4, Maryland 1

Maryland_     1_     0_ —  _1

Pennsylvania_      1_     3_ —  _4

First Half — (Pa) Layton Hoffmann, 8th min.; (Md) Alimzhan Yakhuzov, 13th.

Second Half — (Pa) Ryan Yoder (Jake Boehme), 51st; (Pa) Erik Espinoza, 65th; (Pa) Espinoza, 72nd.

Shots --  Md 10, Pa 13; Shots on goal — Md 6, Pa 8; Corners -- Pa 2, Pa 5; Saves -- Md 4 (Cole Mills 2, Jarrett Rickerds 2), Pa 5 (Chandler Schur 2, Jamie Birgfeld 3).