LEHMAN TWP. – Dallas showed off its boys soccer depth Wednesday afternoon to reclaim the Cleary Cup.
Mountaineers coach Chris Scharff hopes the team will gets a chance to show what it can do at full strength as it enters the most important week of the regular season.
“We’ll have our entire team for the first time this year, hopefully, next week,” Scharff said after a 2-0 win at Lake-Lehman in the annual rivalry game, which is a non-leaguer this season, following realignment. “A couple guys are going to be healthy next week.
“ … They’re going to play against Tunkhannock, Crestwood and Coughlin. That’s a brutal three games in a row.”
David Chopyak, who is sidelined by mononucleosis, is the only one that Scharff was not confident in having back yet. He said Chopyak’s return may be closer to playoff time.
The Mountaineers are 6-3 and in their usual spot as a likely contender when the District 2 Class 3A playoffs come around.
Whether Dallas can still go after a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 title should be determined in the next eight days.
The Mountaineers went into a Friday game against Pittston Area with a 6-3 WVC record, tied for third in Division 1. They play Tuesday at second-place Crestwood and Thursday at Coughlin before playing their home regular-season finale Oct. 17 against first-place Tunkhannock.
Dallas should have the depth for those battles.
It played again Wednesday without center midfielders Chopyak and Beaudyn Lewis and striker Zack Kalna.
The adjusted lineup included Joe Nardone and freshman Jake Hockenberry starting at midfield and Andrew Francis starting on defense.
The latest combination produced a 35-3 advantage in shots.
Dallas hit the post three times and Lake-Lehman goalie Chris Ash made 14 saves to keep the game close.
Ricky Wooditch assisted on a goal in each half.
Evan McClain came off the bench to score the only goal of the first half. He connected on a rebound with 22:31 left.
Lake-Lehman remained within striking distance and Kyle Greenwood needed to make a tough save on Nick Wnuk’s shot from 12 yards out with 28:10 remaining and Dallas still ahead just 1-0.
The Mountaineers got some breathing room with 17:55 left when Wooditch sent his corner kick from the right side all the way to the left post where Ryan Nelligan headed it in.
“I was disappointed in the scoreline,” Scharff said. “We won the game 2-0. We hit the post two or three times.
“We put 35 shots on goal; we have to put five goals in.”
The game was a non-league contest this year because the WVC is now split by division into big and small schools now that the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has four classifications in soccer.
Lake-Lehman is a Class 2A school and is 8-2-1 Division 2. The Black Knights are fourth in a tight division race where every team has at least one loss.
Last season was the first time in nine tries that Lake-Lehman won the Cleary Cup, which is played each year in memory of Lt. Michael J. Cleary.
A 1999 Dallas graduate, Cleary was a captain of both the Dallas soccer and tennis teams before playing both sports at Hamilton College. He was killed while serving in Iraq in 2005.
Reach the Dallas Post newsroom at 570-675-5211 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.