Four teams aim for state final four, three as repeat customers
LEWISTOWN — And then there were four.
Four of the five area teams won PIAA first-round games and advanced to the quarterfinals beginning that will be played today at various sites and times. Winners today advance to Tuesday’s final four in each bracket.
East Juniata has both its girls and boys soccer squads still in contention, along with the Midd-West boys soccer team and Greenwood field hockey.
East Juniata girls soccer
In what should be the feature contest of the day in Class 2A, you have the Tigers (22-1), District 4 champions and an 8-2 winner over Mountain View in the opening round, facing District 3 runner-up Fairfield (22-2), the only team to defeat East Juniata this season.
The Knights, a 2-1 winner over Moravian Academy in the first round, beat the Tigers 2-0 back in early October.
“That game was just a poor overall day for us. We expect the girls to come out with more intensity and do what we do in practice,” East Juniata coach Val Dressler said. “We need to come out and play to our strengths. We like to possess the ball and be patient, break the defense down and then go fast and hard once the lanes open.”
Thea Neimond and Kierstyn Fogle each had two goals and two assists in the win over Mountain View. Neimond has 27 goals on the year and Fogle 32.
“The girls are excited. It was a big step to win the district championship. They intend for their last stop to be Hershey,” Dressler said.
Notably, East Juniata knocked off Fairfield in a previous state meeting — when Fairfield was the defending state champion. The Tigers, if they win, will clinch a spot in the state semifinals for the third straight year.
Action gets underway at Eagle View Middle School in Mechanicsburg at noon.
East Juniata boys Ssoccer
The Tigers (11-11) pulled off the stunner of the opening round in Class A, defeating Halifax on penalty kicks. The Wildcats were 3-0 this season against East Juniata until Tuesday.
Gannon Ryan had the game-winning PK and Andrew Hunter was lights out in goal to pace East Juniata. Hunter, the top keeper in the TVL this season, had 21 saves for the Tigers. Cade Brubaker had the lone goal in regulation.
Looking to end this Cinderella season is Dock Mennonite (18-4). The Pioneers, District 1 champions, defeated Devon Prep 4-0 in the first round.
Game time is 4 p.m. at Cedar Crest High School in Lebanon.
Midd-West boys soccer
The Mustangs scored 43 seconds into their Class 2A first-round contest with Notre Dame-Green Pond and never looked back in a 6-0 victory. Carter Knepp had three goals and an assist to pace Midd-West (19-3). The Mustang senior has 33 goals and 28 assists on the season.
“We have to finish the opportunities we have. If we do that and do that early, the rest should take care of itself,” Midd-West coach Mark Ferster said. “If we finish early it makes us relax a bit and just play. We also have to defend well. The mentality of this team is different from last year. They have been low-key, they do their job and they know what they have to do. They are really focused and confident.”
Next up is New Hope-Solebury, a winner in penalty kicks over defending PIAA champion Fleetwood. The Lions (15-6), District 1 champions, have three players on the roster with 10 or more goals.
“They are an aggressive team. They like to play pretty direct. They have a couple of big fellas. They have a guy in the middle who is 6-4, who can get the long throw. We have to make sure we’re taking care of the ball,” Ferster said. “They have some speed on the outside we have to be aware of. We have to show up and play the way we can play and let them worry about defending us.”
That game begins at noon at Cedar Crest.
Greenwood field hockey
The Wildcats, PIAA semifinalist last season and champions in 2017, rolled over Bloomsburg 6-0 in the first round of the Class A tournament. Standing in their way for a third consecutive trip to the final four is Springfield-Montco.
The Cougars (17-5) cruised to a 7-0 victory over Lansdale Catholic on Tuesday. Springfield, the District 1 runner-up, averages four goals per game.
“We have to limit their offensive attempts, control the midfield, give ourselves a chance to score, and be mentally ready,” Wildcat coach Kent Houser said. “The more you have control of the midfield the more opportunities you have to score. The kids are focused and know what they have to do.”
Greenwood (18-1-2) has outscored opponents 100-15 this season. Grace Lesh, Leah Bryner and Hailey Womer lead the way offensively.
“We have to play our game. We want to get into a quick game and rely on our passing and speed. They play a similar game as us, so we have to intercept their passing lanes and get good ball pressure,” Houser said. “We still have six kids who started from our championship team — they’ve been through the wringer and they know what to expect.”
The game starts at noon at Warwick High School in Lititz.