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Blue Raider boys soccer avenges loss to Susquehanna Township

Posted 10/17/18

By Mitch Spear

Special to the Press & Journal

The Middletown Blue Raiders boys soccer team blanked the Susquehanna Township Indians, 2-0, on Oct. 9 but lost 3-1 to Trinity on Monday to move …

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Blue Raider boys soccer avenges loss to Susquehanna Township


By Mitch Spear

Special to the Press & Journal

The Middletown Blue Raiders boys soccer team blanked the Susquehanna Township Indians, 2-0, on Oct. 9 but lost 3-1 to Trinity on Monday to move to 6-11 on the season.

Thursday’s contest against Trinity was a washout due to the rainy weather.

The Raiders wrapped up the season with Senior Night on Tuesday against Bishop McDevitt. Standing at No. 14 in the PIAA District III Class 2A power rankings with only the top 10 advancing, the playoffs look unlikely.

Middletown 2, Susquehanna Township 0

Goals from Anthony LaVia and Johnny Jumper were all that was required to spark the Raiders past the Indians and avenge their overtime loss against them earlier in the season. It was Caleb Springer’s second shutout in goal.

Against Susquehanna Township, the contest began with a great goal scoring chance for the Indians as Springer in goal had to come out from his box and become a field player to tackle the ball away from the Susquehanna Township striker. The ball popped up and was not cleanly cleared by the Raiders, but the Indians were unable to gain clean possession and generate a second shot on the vacant net.

A nearly identical chance for the Raiders occurred moments later when LaVia was in a foot race with the Indians’ net minder. The Indian goalie came out of the box for the challenge. The challenge left the ball bouncing toward goal, but was later cleared by the Indians’ defensive back line.

A second opportunity for the Raiders came off a great give-and-go from Joey Spear to LaVia back to Spear. The combination freed Spear from the Indian defense and he was able to dribble around the keeper for the open net. However, the touch left a tight angle shot that could not be executed.

LaVia scored on the next Raider opportunity, this time coming from the combination play of LaVia to Mason Garza back to LaVia. The flick from Garza provided the space needed for LaVia to strike the ball twice near the goal.

After the initial keeper save, LaVia was able to punch his consecutive attempt into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

The Raiders nearly doubled their lead when LaVia dribbled to the corner flag and placed a nice cross into a dangerous area of the goal box. The ball glanced off the foot of Jumper and fell to the foot of Gary Mensah. Mensah had both time and space. However, the shot was sent high.

Jumper, minutes later, was able to extend the Raiders’ lead when a header from Spear to LaVia was dribbled out wide and crossed back into the box.

The cross made its way through a sea of bodies and just before it could be collected by the Indians’ goalie, Jumper was able to drive his foot through the ball.

The Indians nearly cut into the lead when their quick defensive clear and the Indians’ ability to push numbers forward provided the Indians with a 4-on-1 break. The ball was crossed in from the flank and left the Indian attacker wide open, center of frame, about 18 yards out from goal. The resulting shot sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.

The Indians began to pressure more, and the added high press resulted in a bouncing ball back to goal with the Indians’ attackers hot in pursuit. Griffin Meyer remained composed at the center back positioning and neatly headed the ball back to Springer.

The Raiders nearly got goal No. 3 when Dagan Hughes found LaVia going strong to goal. The keeper anticipated a shot from the tight angle from LaVia. Instead, LaVia crossed the ball far post to Gavin Guckavan, making a delayed run. Guckavan’s strike was heading toward the corner of the open goal. However, the Indians’ keeper was able to quickly run back into position and punched the ball clear of what would have been a sure goal.

Susquehanna Township’s best chance came about 10 minutes in, when an Indians’ attacking midfielder found himself open a few yards out from goal but on a tight angle. Springer, covering his frame well, was able to dive and make the save and parry the ball clear out of harm’s way.

Late in the contest, the play from the Indians became much more physical and chippy. The added frustration resulted in many additional fouls from Susquehanna Township and the disciplinary actions of two yellow cards.

The last great chance of the game fell the Raiders’ way. Garret Miller, joining the attack, was able to play a precision through-ball to Brady Keyser making a nice run in a tight seam between Indian defenders. The run allowed Keyser to strike the ball hard about 12 yards out from frame, but directly to the well-positioned Indians’ goalkeeper.

Trinity 3, Middletown 1

In Monday’s matchup, Trinity was able to get two early goals off a series of strong throw-ins deep in the Raiders’ half of the field from Christopher Hartley.

The first was sent in center of frame and was mis-cleared under the foot of the Raiders’ defense. The ball ended up in the most dangerous area of goal directly on the foot of Nicholas Scherr, who placed the ball side netting about 8 yards from frame.

The duo of Hartley to Scherr teamed up a second time when Hartley tossed the ball far post for Scherr, left unmarked, to head home for the Shamrock two-goal lead. Both goals came less than 7 minutes into the contest and left the Raiders chasing the game.

After the second goal, the Raiders began to possess the ball and generate some chances of their own. The first came from a set piece 25 yards out. With both Meyer and LaVia standing over the ball, LaVia faked the take and Meyer sent a bending ball far post that could not be cleanly handled by the Trinity keeper. The free ball, however, never found the foot of a Raider.

The Shamrocks looked to play direct for the remainder of the match, allowing the Raiders to maintain possession and control the pace of the game.

However, the Shamrocks extended their lead when the Raiders’ defense was disposed while looking for an outlet pass deep in the defensive zone.

The takeaway left Simon Gunter one-on-one with Springer, who was unable to make the save, and Trinity led 3-0.

The remainder of the game was all in favor of the Raiders, but they were only able to muster one goal. The goal came off a corner kick sent low and hard from Hughes to LaVia. LaVia was able to strike the ball with the one timer past the Trinity keeper, Drew Godfrey, and bring the Raiders back within 3-1.

The Raiders nearly cut into the lead when Meyer found LaVia making a run to the corner of the field. LaVia’s cross was taken first by Spear but Godfrey easily made the save. The next chance came from Keyser, who was able to collect the failed clearance from the Shamrocks and drive a hard shot from distance.

Later, Meyer hooked up with LaVia on a through ball, finding him behind the Shamrock defense. Once again, Godfrey was up for the challenge.

The Raiders came close again to cutting into the Shamrock lead when Knisely’s corner kick made its way through the Shamrock defense and was headed wide from LaVia standing far post.

The last opportunity for the Raiders was a good one when LaVia returned the through ball favor to Meyer. Meyer was able to gain some separation and get the defender on his back as he drove toward frame. However, the pursuing shot was struck just wide of frame and the Shamrock preserved the 3-1 victory.