BOYS' SOCCER: Elco outlasts Donegal in 2OT, all but secures L-L playoff spot
MYERSTOWN>> Here's a coach's cliche need never be spoken in the Elco boys' soccer huddle.
It's not how you start, it's how you finish.
For the Raiders, masters of the beautiful game's version of cramming the night before, have learned how to put together a second half in 2015.
And they aced their most recent post-intermission exam Wednesday against Donegal. Or, more specifically, senior Blaine Troutman did.
Troutman lifted Elco past the Indians, 3-2, with a game-winner in double overtime that all but handed the Raiders (10-5, 8-3 Section Three) a Lancaster-Lebanon League playoff berth. Elco now has a one-game lead and a head-to-head tiebreaker over Donegal for Section Three's third spot, with games against Lancaster Mennonite, Lebanon Catholic and Lancaster Catholic remaining.
The Indians, despite a two-goal performance from Shade Foreman Wednesday, must now beat at least two of Lancaster Mennonite, Annville-Cleona and Lebanon Catholic to qualify. Donegal will host the Little Dutchmen on Thursday in its fourth game in as many days.
The kind of exhaustion the Indians can soon expect is similar to kind that set up Troutman's goal, a chip from the right sideline preceded by a cross-field Austin Eldridge feed.
"All season long we've been a second-half team," Troutman said. "(Justin) Kimmet was kind of out of breath then, so he told me to go to the outside. Eldridge hit the cross and all night the ball's been skipping across the box, so I knew I needed to be there. I just wanted to put it low and far post."
Troutman's goal was the third of his three quality looks after halftime, a point from which Elco more or less dominated play. Down 2-1 at the break, the Raiders decided to move Troutman from the back line to his normal forward position and then watched junior Adam Omar tie the game in the 63rd minute with a header in traffic. From there, the ball remained almost magnetically drawn to the Indians' end, as Elco goalie Matt Berger needed to make only three stops post-intermission.
"We just didn't have the energy that with a one day's rest we would've had," Donegal coach Andy Wagner said. "The guys are giving everything they've got, can't fault them for that. And (Foreman) makes things happen. He's got the magic touch around the goal."
Ethan Anspach answered Foreman's first strike by depositing a head-on, 48-yard free kick underneath the upper left corner of the Donegal frame in the 23rd minute.
In addition to Troutman's back-to-front switch, Seth Noll began commanding the midfield for Elco during the second half, while Clay Hain moved outside. Per coach Kirk Keppley, those moves, in concert with Troutman's, allowed the Raiders to pull ahead and enjoy one of the best times of the year.
"This part of the year's exciting," Keppley said. "It doesn't matter who you're playing, what you're doing. It's just fun."
Elco 3, Donegal 2 (2OT)
First half — 1. D, Shade Foreman, 13:00. 2. E, Ethan Anspach, 23:00. 3. D, Foreman (Andrew Ashley), 31:00.
Second half — 4. E, Adam Omar (Evan Gettler), 63:00.
2nd overtime — 5. E, Blaine Troutman, 92:00.
Shots on goal — E 16, D 14.
Corners — E 5, D 7.
Goalies — E: Matt Berger (8 saves). D: Josh Myers (10).