WRIGHT TWP. — With the postseason right around the corner, the intensity surrounding each Wyoming Valley Conference boys soccer match mounts with every passing day.
And Tuesday’s tilt between Dallas and Crestwood was no exception as the two 3A teams, separated by just a half a game in the 3A standings, fought for 60 minutes with neither team prevailing. Dallas dominated play in the first half, registering a late first-half goal, while the Comets were in control in the second half and scored a late second-half goal, as the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
“It was a good game, and we’re still getting healthy,” Dallas head coach Chris Scharff said. “I was happy with the team’s effort, I thought we worked hard and we could have lost, we could have won, same with them. I think a tie was a fair score today.”
Both teams understood what was at stake Tuesday.
With just 10 days left in the regular season and both teams in good positioning in the 3A standings, it was an opportunity to make a statement to the other team. After Dallas took the first meeting, 2-0 on Sept. 15, the Comets were going for broke, trying to even the score.
“We have five captains on this team and they really came together and it’s been a tough season for them,” Crestwood coach Joel Heintzelman. “We had a tough loss against Tunkhannock (on Thursday), so it was fun to see us rally together and play our game. We played a lot of kick ball in the first half and that’s not the way we want to play things.”
Each team had their chances early in the first half, but neither could convert. However, after Crestwood failed to score off a Dallas turnover, the Mountaineers started to swing the momentum in their direction.
For the next 15 minutes, the Mountaineers put constant pressure on Crestwood goalkeeper Aiden Zabiegalski, and finally, with less than three minutes remaining in the first half, the dam broke. Dallas’ Ricky Wooditch used a free kick to pass the ball to Eric Llewellyn, who was standing at the 40-yard line, and Llewellyn attempted to kick a crosser near the goal. However, instead of crossing the ball, he kicked it into the goal. The ball was just out of Zabiegalski’s reach — who tipped it on the play. The ball hit off the crossbar, then the left post and found the back of the net.
Llewellyn broke the deadlock, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead with just 2:58 remaining in the first half.
“Yeah it was a miskick. I was in shock,” Llewellyn said of his goal. “I saw it go over the keeper’s head and I heard my coach say, ‘Go over.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s in.’ I saw it hit off the post and I was like, ‘Wow, it actually went in.’”
However, the Comets didn’t let the late goal deter them.
Rallying at halftime, Crestwood controlled most of the second half. As the pressure mounted with each ticking second, and Dallas goalkeeper Kyle Greenwood turning away every Crestwood shot, the Comets finally caught a break.
A Dallas penalty gave Crestwood’s Kyle Gegaris a free kick just outside the box, and he made the most of his opportunity.
“I just saw the keeper kind of one-sided, to the left side of the goal, so I just went around the outside of the wall and kind of curved it into the far-side netting,” Gegaris said.
The Comets used the momentum from their late goal to propel themselves into overtime.
However, like Zabiegalski did in the second half — rebounding from letting in the late first-half goal, and standing tall the rest of the way — Greenwood did the same. Crestwood formed the most offensive pressure but couldn’t convert, in part due to Greenwood’s stellar play.
“Their goalie came up big by keeping it at 1-0, which then gave them a chance to tie it, then gave them a chance to get the momentum, and then Kyle kept us in to tie,” Scharff said. “Both goalkeepers did a very good job withstanding the momentum.”
Comets coach absent
Crestwood head coach Michael Stephensson was not on the sidelines for the Comets Tuesday night.
Instead of Stephensson, Joel Heintzelman was taking care of the coaching duties. Heintzelman coaches Crestwood’s junior high team.
Both Heintzelman and Crestwood principal Christopher Gegaris wouldn’t comment on the team’s coaching situation. Gegaris called it a “personnel issue.”
Wyoming Valley West 2,
Hazleton Area 0
Jake Gurtis broke a scoreless tie early in the second half and picked up a second goal for some insurance in the closing minutes for the Spartans.
Tyler Fancher made five saves for the Cougars.
Wyoming Seminary 11,
Michael Deslauriers scored three goals while Andrew Kim and Edge Miller added two apiece for the Blue Knights.
Seminary out-shot GAR 43-9.
Crestwood 1, Dallas 1 2OT
First half — 1. DAL, Eric Llewellyn (Ricky Wooditch), 2:58. Second half — 2. CRE, Kyle Gegaris, 8:17.
Shots — DAL 18; CRE 16. Saves — DAL 10 (Kyle Greenwood); CRE 9 (Aidan Zabiegalski). Corner kicks — DAL 11; CRE 6.
Valley West 2, Hazleton Area 0
Second half — 1. WVW Jake Gurtis (Joyssen Gonzalez) 42:40; 2. WVW, Gurtis (Kyle Yusko), 75:05.
Shots — WVW 24; HAZ 4. Saves — WVW 1 (Davis Weaver, Marco Pernisco); HAZ 5 (Tyler Fancher). Corner kicks — WVW 3; HAZ 0.
Wyoming Seminary 11, GAR 1
First half — 1. WS, Andrew Kim (Michael Kim), 2nd minute; 2. WS, Edge Miller, 9th minute; 3. WS, M. Kim, 16th; 4. WS, A. Kim (Michael Deslauriers), 24th; 5. WS, Deslauriers (A. Kim) 28th; 6. WS, George Vavlas (Gabe Pascal), 32nd; 7. GAR, Own goal, 33rd; 8. WS, Deslauriers (Connor Evans), 37th. Second half — 9. WS, Miller (M. Kim) 52nd; 10. WS, Deslauriers (Parshwa Sheth), 53rd; 11. WS, Pascal (Wisdom Lu), 67th; 12. WS, Jack Davis (Pascal) 69th.
Shots — GAR 3; WS 49. Saves — GAR 16 (Jackie Tang); WS 3 (Ryan Anderson). Corner kicks — GAR 0; WS 9.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle.