Dock is too much for EJ
LEBANON — The Cinderella playoff run of the East Juniata boys soccer team ended in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal loss to Dock Mennonite at Cedar Crest High School on Saturday evening.
Dock Mennonite — known previously as Christopher Dock — used speed, physicality and on-field awareness to smother the Tigers offensively in a 3-0 victory.
“They are a stronger, faster team. Do I feel, technically, that there was something there to draw from that team? Yes I do,” East Juniata coach Mike Ryan said. “What I drew from that team is they are physical and they move the ball forward. Every time they touch the ball, it’s cleared. There was no middle of the field, where we like to play. They played in their offensive third and we struggled to play in the midfield.”
The Pioneerss (19-4) took control of the game right from the start and never let up. The Pioneers fired 30 shots at the Tigers while allowing East Juniata only three.
“They were good at closing us down. As I said, they are a quicker and stronger team. The only way you’re going to be successful is to get rid of the ball quickly,” Ryan said. “They were good at closing players down even off the ball.”
Tiger keeper Andrew Hunter, fresh off a 21-save contest against Halifax, rose to the occasion once again, single-handedly keeping East Juniata in the game in the first half with 10 of his 19 saves.
“He’s decisive. If he’s decisive when he comes off his line, he’ll win balls. He did that against Halifax and he did it again tonight,” Ryan said. “When you’re decisive as a goalkeeper you’re successful. He’s been solid all year. He knows where the posts are and he knows how to cut down the angles.”
Dock Mennonite peppered shot after shot on Hunter before breaking through on a goal from Thomas Schreiber with 5:54 to go in the first half. Ben Lare made the goal happen for the Pioneers by driving down the right side of the pitch and drawing Hunter from his goal. Lare laid down the cross right into the waiting foot of Schreiber, who buried it in the back of the net.
The Pioneers scored less than five minutes into the second half when Jacob Shreiner connected with Ralph Saint-Fleur on a corner that he headed into the top right of the net for a 2-0 lead at 35:05.
“The style of play we like to play isn’t necessarily a physical style, but when we have to play it against a team that’s physical and matches our pace it works for us,” Ryan said. “When they are physical and over-match our pace it’s tough for us.”
Saint-Fleur assisted on the final goal with a beautiful cross to Nathan Smeland who scored with 20:41 left in regulation.
Saint-Fleur led Dock Mennonite with seven shots while teammates Braden Landis, McKade Trauger and Aidan Kelly had five shots each. Cade Brubaker had two of the Tigers’ three shots.
East Juniata ends its season at 11-12.
“We worked hard this season to get to a point of understanding (of) what I expect as a coach. I’ve coached many of these kids for a long time and they kind of know what I expect,” Ryan said. “But bringing a group in with kids who don’t know the kind of system I like to play it took a while to get acclimated to a possession-style of play instead of a kick and run style. This is what we wanted to do, work on a system with two strikers and a different type of attack. We did that well here in the postseason.”
Dock Mennonite 3, East Juniata 0
DM–Thomas Schreiber (Ben Lare), 5:54.
DM–Ralph Saint-Fleur (Jacob Shreiner), 35:05, DM–Nathan Smeland (Saint-Fleur), 20:41.
Shots: DM 30-3. Corners: DM 4-0. Saves: DM-2 (Reynaldo Ramos), EJ-19 (Andrew Hunter).