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Blue Raiders’ boys soccer sends out seniors with win over McDevitt, 3-1

Posted 10/24/18

By Mitch Spear

Special to the Press & Journal

The Blue Raiders’ boys soccer team wrapped up the season on a positive note by beating Bishop McDevitt, 3-1, on Senior Night, Oct. …

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Blue Raiders’ boys soccer sends out seniors with win over McDevitt, 3-1

Posted

By Mitch Spear

Special to the Press & Journal

The Blue Raiders’ boys soccer team wrapped up the season on a positive note by beating Bishop McDevitt, 3-1, on Senior Night, Oct. 16.

They finished 7-11 on the season, No. 14 in the PIAA District III Class 2A power rankings with only the top 10 advancing to postseason play.

Six seniors — Mason Garza, Ben Knisely, Anthony LaVia, Edgar Lopez, Aiden Sessa and Jesse Van Eik — went out with a hard-fought win.

The Raiders generated multiple scoring chances through the contest. The first came from LaVia making a nice run and holding the ball out on the flank before finding Garza. Garza delayed his run and found himself at the center of the goal. The cross went under his foot before a shot could take place.

The Raiders, moments later, earned a corner kick from LaVia holding the ball out wide that was cleared by the Crusader defense. The subsequent corner, taken by Garza, pinballed around the Crusader defense before finding the foot of Sessa. Sessa rocketed the ball toward the goal, but it ricocheted off a Crusader defenseman. The fortuitous deflection found the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

The Crusaders rebounded when Nick Camposarcone found room on the edge, gaining a two-step advantage on Garrett Miller. Miller did well to close the gap and provide enough pressure to force a wide-angle attempt that Caleb Springer saved.

The Raiders doubled their lead moments later off a strong punt from Springer and the effort of LaVia, who was able to collect the bouncing punt deep in the Crusader defensive zone. Between two defenders, LaVia was able to dribble wide, followed by a strong cutback toward the center of the frame. The quick change in direction provided LaVia the room to send a low shot near post for the two-goal Raider advantage.

Later, a strong combination of quick passes broke down the McDevitt defense, starting with a strong throw from Joey Spear to Garza, who flicked the ball with his head to Sessa, who crossed the ball back to LaVia. The quick cross left the Crusaders out of their defensive shape and Van Eik wide open on the opposite side of the field. LaVia, however, was unable to connect with Van Eik.

LaVia, with the ball on foot, was fouled hard by the defense two yards outside the box. The direct kick was struck hard but directly to Rick Stains for the easy save.

Stains remained busy as a defensive win from Miller was sent direct to LaVia. LaVia dribbled up the flank and cut toward goal. The shot was a good one, and required Stains to parry the ball over the crossbar.

The save seemed to energize McDevitt, as they began to pressure the Raider defense. Camposarcone found Stephen Heckert and Spear trailed closely behind, forcing the angled shot that Springer squared up for the impressive save.

With less than 13 minutes left in the half, Heckert broke down the offside trap once again. This time he was able to get the separation he needed and made good of his one-on-one attempt against Springer to cut the Raider lead in half at 2-1.

The second half played out similar to the first with the Raiders holding possession and generating the majority of scoring opportunities.

The first chance came when LaVia was able to get past Stains in goal with his dribble, but the open-netter was cleared well by the Crusader defense. The second chance came off a corner kick that was a great service piece to Joe Cuneo in space that was headed over the crossbar. The third came when Knisely found Garza with Stains about 12 yards off his line. Garza, recognizing Stains playing a high line, attempted to chip the Crusader keeper, but Stains was able to recover and make a leaping save.

The Raiders got the third goal off a series of defensive mis-clears that fell to the foot of Griffin Meyer. Meyer collected the ball in the offensive third of the field and was strong with his dribble. Once in the box, Meyer was fouled, taken down from behind.

Garza took the penalty kick and kissed the ball off the inside post and into the back of the net for the 3-1 Raider lead.

The Crusaders made one more push when Springer made a punch-save. The punch was not cleanly struck, leaving the ball in a dangerous area of the box. A Crusaders’ attacker collected the ball and shot on frame toward the vacant goal. However, Brady Keyser was well positioned and took the would-be goal square off his body, preserving the win.