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Wyomissing downs Blue Raider boys, eliminates them from playoffs

By Mitch Spear, Special to the Press & Journal
Posted 11/1/17


The Blue Raiders boys soccer team fell 3-2 Saturday to the Spartans of Wyomissing in the PIAA District 3 AA quarterfinals. 

As the score suggests, the game was extremely competitive …

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Wyomissing downs Blue Raider boys, eliminates them from playoffs


The Blue Raiders boys soccer team fell 3-2 Saturday to the Spartans of Wyomissing in the PIAA District 3 AA quarterfinals. 

As the score suggests, the game was extremely competitive with both teams having a chance of advancing to the semifinals. What the score does not indicate is how the Raiders led in almost every statistical category except the one that determines which team moves on to the next round. 

The visiting Raiders held the advantage in shots, chances, corner kicks and possession. But it was the Spartans who were able to capitalize on the few scoring opportunities presented to them. 

The Raiders finished with a 13-5-1 record, including 7-1-1 at home. They scored 54 goals while allowing just 18. 

The combined keeper efforts of the Raiders and strong defense resulted in a 0.947 goals allowed per game. The Raiders also had 14 players score goals, and 16 players earn points.

On Saturday, the Spartans were able to generate the first chance off a strong deep throw-in that just missed the head of their two attackers and bounced far side before being cleared. 

The Raiders were able to respond with a scoring opportunity of their own. Ben Knisely found a good shooting lane and shot low with pace, forcing the Spartan keeper, Pat Mahon, to make a diving save. 

The Spartans responded by putting the ball on the foot of Dominic Flowers. Flowers was strong with the dribble and was driving hard toward goal when he was fouled from behind. The direct kick was in a dangerous position for the Raiders to defend as it was placed central and far enough to permit a shot over or around the defensive wall. 

Flowers made good of his strike and put the Spartans up by one in the eighth minute by beating Thomas Lee in goal. Once again, the Raiders responded, this time from the effort of Anthony Lavia, who ran down a ball on the end line and was able to turn and shoot close in. However, Mahon played the near post well and was able to come up with the tight-angle save. 

The Raiders earned the next two scoring chances. The first came from combination passing of Knisely to Joey Spear back to Knisely who shot a bending ball low far post just outside of frame. The next was when Spear challenged a ball of the defense of the Spartans and was able to break up the attempted clearance. The ball instead popped up in the air where Spear headed the ball wide to Thomas Einolf for a quality shot that Mahon once again saved. 

The game was played wide open as both teams traded a scoring chance before the Spartans extended their lead. Flowers dribbled on the left flank and provided a great service ball that was crossed in the air after he was able to dribble through three Raider defenders. The cross was a laser to the head of Jaxton Taylor, who elevated and found separation from the defense before heading the ball past Lee to make it 2-0. 

The Raiders kept fighting and were able to score after earning a corner kick. The short corner was taken by Jacob Spear who played the ball to the near corner of the 18 to Griffin Myers. Myers was taken down from behind in the box and earned the Raiders a penalty kick. David Alcock made it and got the Raiders on the scoreboard at 2-1. 

The goal energized the Raiders going into the second half. The chances again went back and forth as both teams found a few scoring opportunities. The Raiders were able to get the equalizer when Einolf found Myers in open space about 12 yards out. He was able to find Alcock streaking toward goal and hit him in stride to pull the Raiders even with the Spartans at 2. 

The momentum and crowd seemed to be all Raiders. 

A shot from Einolf headed toward the Spartan keeper. A defender misplayed the ball and the deflection off the side of his foot rolled just wide of frame. 

Despite the momentum shift, it was the Spartans who were able to get what proved to be the game winner. A deep throw-in by Max Moyer that no one was able to put a head to instead bounced center of goal about 7 yards out. The bounding ball was collected and shot by Taylor for his second goal of the day. 

The Raiders moved to a three-defensive back formation and pushed Donovan Brady as an extra attacker in hopes of generating more chances. This move nearly backfired, as almost immediately the Spartans got beyond the three remaining defenders and caused Avery Williams to come up strong with the one-on-one save. 

The last 5 minutes were all Raiders as they were able to rip off four high-quality shots. However, they were unable to get the ball past Mahon. 

The Raiders finished with 16 shots to the Spartans 9, and held a 9-to-5 corner kick advantage. Lee and Williams combined for 5 saves.