They are the Champions

By on October 10, 2018
Cocalico players congratulate Danny Engel (3) after his second-half goal Tuesday vs. Octorara. The Eagles wrapped up a perfect league season Tuesday after clinching their first-ever Section Three title Friday. Photo by Denise Mitchell

Cocalico players congratulate Danny Engel (3) after his second-half goal Tuesday vs. Octorara. The Eagles wrapped up a perfect league season Tuesday after clinching their first-ever Section Three title Friday. Photo by Denise Mitchell

Cocalico clinches first-ever section title with 1-0 win over LMH

Friday’s Section Three boys’ soccer game was surely headed for overtime.

Throughout the game, Cocalico and Lancaster Mennonite had traded 11 shots on goal and 11 corner kicks and yet zeros glared from the scoreboard with less than a minute left in regulation.

The Blazers were desperate, needing a win to stay in the hunt for the section title. But when Eagle senior co-captain Nick Stauffer broke into the goal box behind the defense, that desperation reached the breaking point.

Stauffer was tripped 12 yards away from the goal, resulting in a penalty kick with 26 seconds left on the clock.

Sophomore Aaron Weitzel was chosen to attempt the potential game winner.

“I always keep my head down to the ball,” explained Weitzel. “It’s just that simple for me.”

When Weitzel struck the ball into the lower left corner of the net, the Cocalico players, coaches and fans erupted. They knew the 1-0 victory over the Blazers meant the program’s first section title ever.

“I’m just so proud of the group of seniors,” stated Eagle head coach Derek Sipe, after the game. “They continued to work and continued to buy in. So for them to get that reward at the end of their careers is just something that’s special.”

As an additional motivation for his charge, Sipe paraded his team into the high school gymnasium before making the trip to Lancaster. What they found was an empty boys’ soccer banner on the wall.

Their inspiration was to be the first.

“Yes it does,” added Weitzel. “It feels good to have our first section title.”

The Cocalico defense had a big role in the win, posting the team’s seventh consecutive shutout and 13th-straight victory.

“We did a good job handling their pressure,” explained Sipe. “That’s kind of been our defense the whole year. We bend, and we always have each other’s backs, but we don’t break.”

Junior Moses Madison patrolled one side of the defense, seemingly the first one to every loose ball.

“His speed is something really special, something that you can’t teach,” described Sipe. “Tonight was one of those games where he really stands out as a quality player, beyond just the pace that he has.”

Another weapon in Sipe’s arsenal is senior center-back Avery Stark, who is not only charged with clearing the ball from in front of the Eagle’s net. He also is pulled to the offensive end for throw-ins near the goal.

“He turns something that is not really an opportunity into something that’s really scary,” said Sipe. “It’s almost an additional corner. It adds an additional dimension to your team.”

The final blockade for the Cocalico defense is senior goalkeeper Peyton Stetter. Recording seven official saves, Stetter also batted away numerous corners and crosses. His decisions also found him on the ball first when the Blazers attempted to go over top of the Eagles back line.

“In the air, he’s incredible,” added Sipe. “I think a lot of that goes to his basketball background. As the year goes on, he learned to read the game better. To know when to come out. To know where the offensive guy is going to place the ball.”

In addition to winning their first Section title, as champs the Eagles qualified for the L-L League Quarterfinals for the first time. The L-L Quarters get underway Saturday at four sites (L-S, Cocalico, Manheim Central and Lancaster Catholic) with game times set for 10 a.m. or noon.

Cocalico will open against the Section Two runner-up, which will either be Manheim Central or Ephrata. The L-L playoffs will continue next Tuesday with semifinal action at either CV or Manheim Central, beginning at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The finals will be held Thursday, Oct. 18 with the boys championship set for 7:30 p.m. at Warwick.

Tuesday night at home, Cocalico finished off a perfect 10-0 section season with a 2-0 victory over visiting Octorara.

Caleb Sturtevant scored the game’s first goal off an assist from Aaron Weitzel. Danny Engle then netted an insurance tally with five minutes to play.

And last Wednesday at Donegal, Darren Main scored both Cocalico goals in a 2-0 victory over the Indians. Stauffer added an assist while Stetter made 10 stops in the victory.

Cocalico (10-0 league, 15-1 overall after Friday’s game) wraps up the regular season Thursday with a non-league game at Central York.

Cocalico is currently the third seed in the District Three AAA power rankings. Lancaster Mennonite (7-2, 11-4), despite the loss, remains the top AA seed in the D-3 power rankings.

 

 

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