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Eagles stunned in final seconds
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Cocalico couldn’t have come any closer to upsetting host Mechanicsburg in the first round of the District Three Boys Soccer AAA Playoffs Tuesday night.
Locked in a thrilling 1-1 tie, the Eagles carried play throughout the second half and came close several times to getting the go-ahead goal. However, with regulation play winding down, the Wildcats drove a dagger into the hearts of the Eagles, and came away with a stunning 2-1 decision.
With less than 30 seconds to play, Dean Patton’s throw in from the corner was on the mark, and Zach Sherman was there to bang it home with 23 ticks remaining to give the host Wildcats the dramatic victory.
"Unbelievable," Cocalico Coach Bob Dungan said of the ending. "It’s amazing. It was one heck of a game. Our motto before heading into Districts was, ‘no regrets.’ I said, ‘if you can look at yourselves in the mirror after this game and know that you gave 100 percent and you have no regrets…’ I don’t think anybody in Mechanicsburg thought they’d be in for a fight tonight and they got their money’s worth.
"Our kids played their hearts out and I wouldn’t be standing here with a smile on my face if they wouldn’t have played hard. I’m just so proud of their efforts, and I’m going to sleep well tonight."
With the win, the fourth-seeded Wildcats (18-4) advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round where they’ll face Hempfield– a 1-0 winner over Cedar Cliff– at Hersheypark Stadium, beginning at 3 p.m.
As for Cocalico, the Eagles, who will graduate 14 seniors, close out the season with a 12-6-1 mark.
"It’s very tough," Coach Dungan said of the loss. "It was very emotional at the end, especially with our 14 seniors who have been around for such a long time. It was very emotional. It’s a tough loss, but it’s a learning experience and one to grow on. These young boys have grown into young men, and I’m just so proud of them."
Cocalico appeared to strike first late in the first half but the goal was disallowed by a late offside call. Then, in the 37th minute, Ryan Wolfe answered with a goal of his own to give Mechanicsburg the 1-0 lead heading to the half.
But Cocalico got the equalizer three minutes into the second half when senior Wyatt Dungan beat a defender and chipped a shot past the Mechanicsburg goalie.
The Eagles then kept coming, and out chanced the Wildcats 6-2 the rest of the way. Unfortunately, they couldn’t cash in.
"We just had the momentum," Coach Dungan said. "I was very confident in our chances going into the first overtime if we were getting there. We were moving the ball, and we had chance after chance after chance. I just felt if we got to overtime good things were going to happen. Unfortunately with 23 seconds left…It was a stunner."
Cocalico goalie Lucas DiCiano had three saves in the loss.
The Eagles opened the District Three playoffs Saturday afternoon in Denver, hosting fellow L-L combatant Elizabethtown in a play-in game.
The Eagles, who owned a 1-0-1 record against the Bears prior to Saturday, controlled this one from the start and cruised to a 2-0 victory to advance.
Alec Sensenig and Wyatt Dungan each scored first-half goals for the Eagles, while Dylan Hrubochak and Austin Krick added assists in the win.
Cocalico held a 10-3 advantage in shots and led 8-4 in corners. DiCiano made three saves in goal for the shutout win.
The 20th-seeded Bears closed out the season at 9-8-1. More STUNNED, page B-4