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Middletown boys soccer beats Milton Hershey, loses 2 games

Posted 10/9/19

The Blue Raiders boys soccer team picked up a win against Milton Hershey on Thursday but also dropped games at Camp Hill and at Boiling Springs to fall to 3-12 on the season.

The Blue Raiders …

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Middletown boys soccer beats Milton Hershey, loses 2 games

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The Blue Raiders boys soccer team picked up a win against Milton Hershey on Thursday but also dropped games at Camp Hill and at Boiling Springs to fall to 3-12 on the season.

The Blue Raiders finish the season with two of their last three games at home. On Tuesday, they were scheduled to celebrate senior night vs. Susquehanna Township (3-9-1) at War Memorial Field. The Raiders remain at home Thursday, to battle the Shamrocks of Trinity (7-4-1) at 7 p.m., and wrap up the season next Tuesday on the road at East Pennsboro (6-5-3) with a 6:30 p.m. start.

Camp Hill 1, Middletown 0

On Tuesday night, the Raiders squared off against the Lions of Camp Hill. The Raiders showed very little emotion and a general lack of hustle in the first half, allowing the Lions to enjoy the better of the possessions and the majority of scoring chances.

One such opportunity came early when Marko Balic ran beyond the Raider defensive backline. He received the well-timed through ball, but the effort and speed of Johnny Jumper was able to close the gap and eventually dispossess Balic.

Minutes later, the Lions pieced together a great combination of one- and two-touch passes. Brendan Foerster received the ball and continued to take the ball out wide in space. He sent a nicely crafted square ball onto the foot of Liam Raney, who struck the ball cleanly on frame, but Caleb Springer was well positioned to make the impressive reaction save standing just a few yards away from the strikers’ blast.

Twelve minutes into the game, Raney used individual effort to weave through the Raider defense, beating three defenders on the dribble. Raney struck the ball hard past Springer in the corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Foerster nearly doubled Camp Hill’s lead off a cross that he steered with his head off the crossbar that proceeded to bounce across the mouth of the goal.

The Raiders responded well. Their chance came off a corner kick that was followed by a failed Lion defensive clearance. The ball found the feet of Joe Cuneo, who took a few touches toward goal and sent a curling strike that hit the post and fell back to the Camp Hill netminder.

The Lions got the last chance in the half when Balic once again looked for space out wide, receiving a ball from a terrific switch of field. However, Robert Lian was up to the challenge and tracked well with the Lions’ forward. His hustle prevented Balic with any easy look at goal.

The second half started much like the first half with the Lions owning much of the possession in their attacking half. With 20 minutes left in the game, the Raiders picked up their emotion and began winning the 50-50 balls. The energy also seemed to help the Raiders with connecting on their passes, an essential part of the game that had been lacking earlier in the game.

This shifted the tide, and generated several chances for the Raiders in the attacking zone. The Raider pressure forced the Lions to concede several late corners, which the Lions had difficulty defending.

The Raiders nearly equalized from a service cross from Garrett Miller. Two Raiders made a great run on the cross, one heading central and one back post.

Brady Keyser was the one with the first chance central and Daniel Lugo crashing far post. However, the service was just inches from both their feet as it traveled across the frame of goal.

A last chance to pull even came with one minute remaining in the contest. This time a high service ball was directed to the top of the box. Geoffrey Harper in goal for the Lions was met by the challenge of Lugo, who was able to separate Harper from the ball. However, before the Raiders could get a foot on the ball and direct it toward the vacated goal, Harper recovered quickly and secured the free ball.

Middletown 4, Milton Hershey 1

The Raiders responded Thursday at Milton Hershey with a 4-1 victory, the Raiders’ highest offensive production of the season and a complete team effort.

The Raiders began strong by controlling the passing game. The first scoring chance came when Jumper found Joey Spear, who passed the ball to Lugo for the quick turn-and-shoot. Lugo’s effort sailed just wide far post.

The Spartans looked to the speedy counter-attack and nearly squeezed a great pass through a tight passing lane in the Raider defense. However, this passing lane closed quickly due to a great effort of Levi Ettu, who was the last defender back. His outstretched leg and foot clearance was enough to stop the would-be pass that otherwise would have sprung Trisan Gyamfi for a one-on-one with Springer in net.

Cuneo shortly after found Spear with a nice slotted ball. Cuneo’s service ball forced Spear to shoot quickly as Dominic DiBernardo came off his line to cut down the shooting angle. Spear’s attempt struck the post and went wide.

Dagan Hughes followed with a great opportunity when he was able to dispossess the Spartan defender and strike the ball from distance. The strong shot went to DiBernado, who was positioned perfectly in goal.

With less than six minutes in the first half, the Raiders were rewarded with the first goal of the contest. Miller took the ball to the corner flag and played a nice negative pass to Lian trailing the run. Lian’s cross was sent far post and went under the foot of the Spartan right back to Aidan Shaffer holding far post. Shaffer continued to tack down the ball facing away from goal and took a terrific quick turn-and-shoot. Shaffer’s tight angled strike hit side netting and gave the Raiders the lead at 1-0.

In the second half, the Raiders tallied three more. The first came when Spear was able to dispossess the Spartan defender receiving a goal kick. Spear upon taking the ball moved toward goal, and his strike hit the inside of the goalpost and into the back of the net.

Lian added his second assist on the afternoon, this time hooking up with Spear with his cross. Spear took a quick touch and shot that was directed under DiBernardo stretching out to his right to make it 3-0.

The Raiders’ last goal came from a perfectly weighed ball from Gary Mensah standing at the halfway line. His service found Keyser making a central run in full stride. Keyser collected the pass and struck the ball well, giving DiBernardo no chance on making a save to make it 4-0.

Milton Hershey scored once in the 86th minute for the 4-1 final score.

Boiling Springs 3, Middletown 0

The Raiders finished the week on Saturday at Ecker field in Boiling Springs.

The Bubblers looked to play direct in the offensive third of the field. Springer recognized the Bubblers’ strategy early in the game and countered by playing off the goal line. With this tactic, he was able to collect the ball out near the 18 yard line several times early in the game.

The Raiders began to earn some deep possessions, which led to a series of passes at the second level. Hughes and Miller both took advantage of this space to test the Bubblers’ keeper. They both struck the ball from distance in the void between the opponent’s defense and midfielders.

Despite the Raiders gaining momentum, it was the Bubblers who were able to break onto the scoreboard in the 11th minute. The goal came with a harmless looking through-ball played to the Bubblers’ striker. Springer ran out of the goal box to clear the ball with his feet; however, the clearance hit the oncoming striker and took a friendly Boiling Springs bounce as it ricocheted right back to the striker’s foot. The striker was able to easy collect the ball and directed it towards the empty net to make it 1-0.

The Bubblers added a second goal after several defensive failed clearance attempts. The ball was collected by the Bubblers at the midfield. They were able to send it back in centrally to the head of their striker who headed the ball back across the goal for the second score.

A strong foul at the corner of the box resulted in a long injury timeout and a Bubbler free kick. The long break in action seemed to catch the Raiders sleeping defensively as when play resumed, Boiling Springs took the direct kick and sent a great service ball far post to an unmarked Bubbler attacker. The header was easily directed into the back of the net for the goal to make it 3-0.

The Raider defense stiffened in the second half and prevented any further damage by holding the strong playoff-bound Bubbler team scoreless in the second half. The Raiders were able to generate a few more opportunities in the second half but were unsuccessful in cutting into the deficit.