DALLAS TWP. — Wyoming Valley West head boys soccer coach Charlie Whited has always preached during the regular season that no game is more important than the next.
However, Whited did admit that Thursday’s win at Dallas was rather gratifying. Considering the Mountaineers handed a 1-0 loss to Valley West in the season opener, it was a relief when the Spartans took home a 2-0 road victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference showdown between two of the top teams in Division 1.
“Absolutely gratifying to get that win the second time around after losing with three minutes left in the game (the last time). That’s a tough one to handle,” Whited said. “I’m very happy with it. I just see a high level of play. We’re really passing and playing unselfish.”
Early on, the Spartans watched their shots find the crossbar instead of the back of the net. In fact, it took Wyoming Valley West captain Joyssen Gonzalez two attempts to net the Spartans’ first goal.
Kyle Yusko’s corner kick found Gonzalez, who drilled his shot off of the crossbar, but the ball came back to him. He wasn’t going to miss a second time.
“You have to anticipate (the ball) as it comes and you always have to keep in mind that it’s not always going to deflect off someone,” Gonzalez said. “I was just waiting for it and it came down and I took a touch and found an opening between the keeper and I just hit it in.”
Playing with a 1-0 lead with 19 minutes and 14 seconds remaining in the first half, the Spartans kept up their aggressive play. However, they couldn’t convert on any of their shots, seeing a few go high or find their way into the Dallas keeper’s hands.
But the Spartans didn’t waste any time coming out of the break.
Less than 40 seconds into the second half, Valley West had the ball deep in Dallas’ territory and Jake Gurtis found Nick Bazadona who put the ball towards the net only to be tapped in by Nate Naugle.
“It’s almost going like to practice. It’s almost like an instinct to me,” Naugle said of his goal. “It’s like going through all the drills and everything. It’s almost like an instinct to know that pass is coming and know the goal’s behind me.”
Controlling the game with a 2-0 lead, for the remaining 39:24 the Spartans tightened up defensively and made sure they didn’t make any costly mistakes like they did in the first meeting.
Led by Gurtis’ defensive effort and the play of goalkeeper Davis Weaver, the Spartans were able to post a fourth straight shutout. Weaver made a game-high six saves.
“I’m going to praise Jake Gurtis and that defensive end,” Whited said. “Three, four, five shutouts now, and he’s doing the job. Ever since he’s moved back there he hasn’t given up a goal.”
Now the Spartans look to turn in another impressive effort into a seventh straight win when they host Division 1-leading Tunkhannock Monday.
“Big games only happen when the playoffs come around, otherwise it’s just a regular-season game,” Whited said.
Max Gariano scored in the final minute of regulation to lift the Comets past the Crusaders in a back-and-forth game. Dylan Perrone, Kyle Gegaris and Hubert Herrera also scored in the win with Herrera adding two assists, including on the game winner.
Coughlin had erased deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 on two goals by Eric Christian and one by Cameron Corcoran.
Hazleton Area 7,
Wyoming Area 4
Jonathan Pozniak’s hat trick led the way in the Cougars’ win over Wyoming Area.
Gabriel Fabian finished with two goals, while Josh Capriotti chipped in with two goals and one assist.
Wyoming Area’s Ryan Shuleski scored two goals and keeper Jason Mapes made nine saves.
MMI Prep 0
Nick Wnuk finished with three goals and an assist as the Black Knights outshot the Preppers 26-3. Chris Ash picked up the shutout in net.
Wyoming Valley West 2, Dallas 0
Wyoming Valley West`1`1`—`2
First half — 1. WVW, Joyssen Gonzalez (Kyle Yusko), 19:14. Second half — 2. WVW, Nate Naugle (Nick Bazadona), 39:24.
Shots — WVW 13; DAL 15. Saves — WVW 6 (Davis Weaver); DAL 2 (Kyle Greenwood). Corner kicks — WVW 2; DAL 3.
Crestwood 4, Coughlin 3
First half — 1. CRE, Dylan Perrone (Mike Ceklosky), 7th minute; 2. CRE, Kyle Gegaris (Hubert Herrera), 20th; 3. COU, Eric Christian (Jim Fisher), 28th; 4. COU, Christian, 36th. Second half — 5. CRE, Herrera (Gegaris), 49th; 6. COU, Cameron Corcoran, 68th; 7. CRE, Max Gariano (Herrera), 80th.
Shots — COU 11; CRE 26. Saves — COU 9 (David Kosik); CRE 6 (Tim Stewart). Corner kicks — COU 5; CRE 5.
Hazleton Area 7, Wyoming Area 4
First half — 1. HAZ, Gabriel Fabian (unassisted), 9th minute; 2. HAZ, Josh Capriotti (unassisted), 9th; 3. HAZ, Fabian (unassisted), 13th; 4. WA, Ryan Shuleski (unassisted), 26th; 5. HAZ, Jonathan Pozniak (Capriotti) 29th; 6. WA, Justin Alder (unassisted), 30th. Second half — 7. HAZ, Capriotti (Pozniak), 49th; 8. HAZ, Pozniak (Brian Harry), 50th; 9. HAZ, Pozniak (Capriotti), 51st; 10. WA, Mike Wall (unassisted), 66th; 11. WA, Shuleski (Luke Coolbaugh), 36’.
Shots — WA 9; HAZ 18. Saves — WA 9 (Jason Mapes); HAZ 3 (Brian Reidel). Corner kicks — WA 3; HAZ 4.
Lake-Lehman 6, MMI Prep 0
First half — 1. LL, Antonio Franzone (Nick Wnuk), 11th minute; 2. LL, Wnuk (Kyle Sincavage), 16th; 3. LL, Wnuk (Sincavage), 17th; 4. LL, Clovis da Luz (Justin Timonte), 35th. Second half — 5. LL, Wnuk (Timonte), 50th; 6. LL, Mahmoud Dabsheh (Matt Sczyrek), 76th.
Shots — MMI 3; LL 26. Saves — MMI 14 (Kevin Cibak). Corner kicks — MMI 0; LL 4.
Reach DJ Eberle at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @ByDJEberle.