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Blue Raiders boys soccer team battles hard, but drops two of three

Posted 10/8/18

By Mitch Spear

Special to the Press & Journal

The Middletown Blue Raiders soccer showed many signs of improved play in the last week, but still found it difficult to get wins.

They went …

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Blue Raiders boys soccer team battles hard, but drops two of three

Posted

By Mitch Spear

Special to the Press & Journal

The Middletown Blue Raiders soccer showed many signs of improved play in the last week, but still found it difficult to get wins.

They went 1-2 on the week to stand at 5-10 on the season.

The Raiders have three remaining games. The first, away, on Tuesday was against Susquehanna Township at 4 p.m. They continue to play on the road Thursday against the Shamrocks of Trinity at 6:30 p.m.  The Raiders finish up their season at home (Senior Night) Oct. 16 against Bishop McDevitt at 7 p.m.

Camp Hill 1, Middletown 0

The Raiders began their week Tuesday against division-leading Camp Hill.

After some early chances that led to a Lions’ goal, the Raiders settled in to the flow of the game.

The Lions’ goal came midway through the first half when a long bouncing ball sprung Amias Colestock tight roping the offsides trap to get beyond the defense. Colestock was able to hold off Anthony LaVia, who was quick in pursuit and closed down on the initial separation.

However, before LaVia could reach Colestock, he shot near post to beat Caleb Springer in net to make it 1-0. 

Springer, however, was able to take his revenge on Dylan Mayanja. Mayanja made a well-timed run to get beyond the Raiders’ wing back, forcing Springer to react quickly. Springer came off his line and was able stone Mayanja and turn the ball away from goal.

The Raiders had a great chance of their own when Brady Keyser threaded a nice ball between two defensemen that was just beyond the reach of Mason Garza’s extended leg when in close proximity of the goal.

The second half of play was evenly played. A late push for an equalizer favored the Raiders. The first came early when LaVia was able to take his dribble to the corner and beat the Lions’ wing back. His low liner cross was deflected and fell to Jesse Van Eik, whose shot sailed over the crossbar.

The Raiders followed this up with a strong strike from Griffin Meyer off a direct kick that could not be cleanly handled by the Lions keeper, Noah Jack. Noah struggled to find the handle, and had to dribble the ball around the traffic of several Raiders in the box before he was able to collect the ball.

The Lions nearly doubled their lead when a defensive push in the box led to a Lions’ penalty kick. Springer was once again up to the task when he guessed correctly and dove to his left to push the ball wide of frame.

The save kept the game within reach and seemed to energize the Raiders. They created a flurry of chances in the remaining 15 minutes of the game, generating multiple shots from the play of Garza, Lavia ( three shots), Meyer (two shots), and Dagan Hughes.

However, the equalizer never came as all shots were struck wide or over the crossbar. 

Middletown 4, Milton Hershey 3

The well-played, tough loss to the Lions on Tuesday left the Raiders flat to begin the contest against Milton Hershey on Thursday.

The Spartans exploited this with an early own goal to make it 1-0, followed by a fast break that was initially saved by Springer, but fell back to the pursuing attacker and was shot into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

The Spartans tallied one more, again from the speed of their attack. A Spartan forward made it behind the Raider defense and scored one-on-one with Springer to make it 3-0.

The Raiders showed resilience and began to battle back. The first goal came the Raiders’ way when a ball was won in the defense third by Joey Spear, who took a few touches and sent a through ball over the Spartan defense to the foot of LaVia making a well-timed run towards goal. LaVia made good of his one-on-one with the keeper by following his initial shot that hit off the post and buried the second attempt into the back of the net to make it 3-1.

The second goal came when Hughes found LaVia standing center of frame about 18 yards out. LaVia facing away from goal took a quick turn and blasted a shot into the back of the net to pull the Raiders within one at 3-2.

The Raiders got their equalizer when Spear took his dribble strong to goal and was fouled from behind in the box. LaVia took the pursuing penalty kick that tied the game at 3.

LaVia was not finished, and was able to bag his fourth goal of the contest, and what proved to be the game winner. The winning goal came from a great service piece of Meyer. Meyer sent a well-placed ball on frame where the run of LaVia generated a glancing header that changed the trajectory enough to clear the keeper and fall under the crossbar.

The Raiders played well in the second half and dominated possession in the middle to offensive third of the field. The dominance generated several more chances, but the Raiders could not find that insurance goal. The Raider defense, meanwhile, tightened up and did not allow the Spartans the chances they enjoyed early in the first half of the game.

Meyer, filling in for the injured Aiden Sessa, did well to match the speed of the Spartans, thus preventing any second-half fast breaks.   

Boiling Springs 2, Middletown 1

The Raiders finished up the week Saturday against a non-division opponent, the Boiling Springs Bubblers.

The first chance for the Raiders came from the foot of LaVia when his cross was mis-cleared by the Bubblers defense. Instead, the ball set up nicely for Keyser about 16 yards out. Keyser took a shot heading toward the upper corner of the goal but was well blocked by the Boiling Springs defense.

The next chance came after some nice combination play from Gary Mensah, to LaVia, back to Spear. Spear’s shot was a dipping shot from distance far post that took the finger tip save of the Bubblers’ goalkeeper. The keeper was playing a few yards off his line and was able to deflect it high enough to hit the crossbar instead of the back of the net.

Shortly afterward, Hughes was left unmarked and attempted a one-timer, a side volley from the cross of LaVia.

The Raiders broke the tie when Ben Knisely hooked up with LaVia in close range. LaVia’s first shot hit the keeper’s hands but fell back right back to him. LaVia capitalized on his second chance and struck the ball low near post for the 1-0 Raider lead.

In the second half, the Raiders found the post twice more but could not extend the lead. Not capitalizing on these chances proved costly, as the Bubblers scored late in the game. The goal was a result of a defensive mis-clear that squirted under the foot of the Raider defensive back and on to the Bubbler striker who continued his run. Springer was able to get his hand on the pursuing strike, but was unable to keep the equalizer out of the net.

In extra time, the Bubblers were able to use their late regulation time equalizer to spark a game winner. The goal came when a long cross from the right side of the pitch found the attacking midfielder left unmarked out wide on the left wing. The winger was standing on the attacking side of the halfway line. After collecting the ball, the attack continued down the left flank where he beat Springer, holding his line, a few yards out for the sudden death goal and a 2-1 final.