Midd-West falls in heartbreaker

Senintel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
Midd-West's Devan Leister, right, tries to beat Lewisburg's Nate Liscum on a header during Thursday's District 4 Class 2A boys soccer championship game at Danville.

DANVILLE — Four was the magic number for the Green Dragons Thursday night in Danville.

Four times in a row the Lewisburg team had made district finals, four times the championship game was played against Midd-West, and all four times Lewisburg came away with the distinction of District 4 Class 2A champion.

The win made the 2018 senior class the winningest team in Lewisburg boys soccer history.

In a 1-0, double-overtime thriller, Lewisburg came out on top on a late goal by Tommy Bhangdia, assisted by freshman Ben Liscum.

Midd-West finished its season with an overall record of 16-3-2.

The goal came just seven minutes before penalty kicks would have had to be the deciding factor.

“Any time these two programs come together you know there are going to be some blood, sweat and tears,” Lewisburg head coach Skip Kratzer said. “Its always a great battle between us.”

For the Midd-West Mustangs, four seasons in a row came to an end at the district championship game.

“When you look at it, not too many teams are happy when they end their season” coach Chris Sauer said after the heart-breaking loss. “Its frustrating for these guys. They put the work in and played well enough to get a result tonight, they just didn’t get it.”

In a roller coaster of a game, both teams had multiple chances to claim the title, with the flow of the game constantly changing, though a Lewisburg advantage seemed to be apparent all night.

“One minute you think you’re about to score, and the next minute you’re holding your breath because the other team is running down the field against you.” Kratzer said. “It was a lot of excitement.”

Lewisburg’s chances were abundant, but the overly-agressive nature of Lewisburg’s offense nipped them in the bud on multiple occasions. The Lewisburg offense was whistled offsides a total of nine times in the game, eliminating potential scoring chances. Most of the offsides calls went against Lewisburg’s Tommy Bhangdia.

“Tommy had a lot of opportunities to put this thing away,” Kratzer said. “I was glad to see he could finally do that at the end.”

Lewisburg held an 11-6 advantage in shots on the game, and a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks taken.

Over 100 minutes into the game, a Lewisburg breakthrough was finally made.

With the Midd-West defense on weary legs, Ben Liscum took control of the ball wide open in the middle of the field in Mustangs territory.

Liscum chipped a short pass through the defense and found the foot of a streaking Bhangdia, who finally converted on a shot to earn a district title.

Midd-West’s best chance to score came late in the second half.

A long cross on a free kick caught Lewisburg keeper Sam Miller out of position. A shot from Midd-West headed for the open goal, but luckily for the Green Dragons, a defender stepped in front of the shot and cleared the ball to safety.

Miller made five saves in the 102 minute, 39 second contest to preserve the shutout for the Green Dragons, while Midd-West keeper Ethan Knepp made six saves in the losing effort.

“You come into a game like this with a pair of good teams and there isn’t going to be much to separate them,” Sauer said. “We did a great job of handling pressure and creating opportunities.”

Lewisburg 1, Midd-West 0

2OT

L– Tommy Bhangdia (Ben Liscum), 7:21.

Shots: L11-6. Corners: L 5-2. Fouls: L 14-11. Saves: MW-6 (Ethan Knepp); L-5 (Sam Miller).

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