Eagles fall in state tourney
BY ASHLEY TEATUM
When Mountain View boys soccer coach Roger Thomas addressed his players after Saturday’s PIAA Class A quarterfinal, he reminded them of how far they had come.
That the season was measured by more than just the Eagles’ run through the playoffs, which ended Saturday in a 2-0 loss to South Williamsport at Wyoming Valley West High School.
As it was they were in the state’s Class A final eight.
“We really started as not a very disciplined team,” Thomas said. “We didn’t have a culture, didn’t have a climate. Over time, and it took time, we established a culture and climate of reasonable discipline on and off the field, of commitment to the team on and off the field. That’s so important.”
Mountain View found an evenly matched opponent in South Williamsport, which scored a goal in each half.
With just over 14 minutes elapsed, Brandon Johnson connected with Logan Yerger in the box and the midfielder’s shot bounced past Mountain View keeper Chris Hermann’s fingertips, hit the left post and found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Eagles could not capitalize on their scoring opportunities despite outshooting South Williamsport, 8-2, in the first half.
A shot from Colby Thomas with 27 minutes left in the game was the closest they would get to a goal. He drew out the goalkeeper and his shot found the back of the net, but because of a foul on the play, the potential game-tying goal did not count.
The Mounties put the game away when Hunter Rosenberg scored off another Johnson assist with 4:13 remaining.
“We overcame a lot this season, and went through adversity,” senior co-captain Greg Adams said. “We were still missing a few starters going into today, but we were really resilient. We showed a lot of character and fought through a lot this season.
“It was a great run. Three (Mountain View) teams made it this far, and the two of us (Adams and keeper Chris Hermann) made it through with two of them.”
Mountain View controlled the ball for most of the final eight minutes, trying as many different ways as it could to overcome the shutout.
“At the end we kind of came together when we needed to score,” said co-captain Hermann, who made six saves for Mountain View. “We put everything we had into it.
“It was one of those times where everything we worked for came together in that last push.”
The Eagles will lose 10 seniors to graduation, but a core group of underclassmen now have the experience of playing in the state playoffs.
“We’re a young team, but they’ll be fine,” Adams said. “They’re a great group.
“I will be surprised if this team isn’t in this game next year.”
There was always a soccer ball in the Thomas household.
The walls have had scuffs and even some holes from brothers Colby and Dylan getting their practice in. Soccer has always been a part of their lives.
And that mattered more than white walls.
“It’s always been in the family,” Colby, a freshman, said. “My dad always playing with us, stuff like that. Our walls in here, they’ve had a number done to them. … There was never a time when there was no ball in this house.”
The Thomas brothers were slated to play in separate soccer tournaments this weekend, but of course, joined the Eagles in their state playoffs run.
Colby plays with the Lehigh Valley United 95 team, which will compete in the Mid-Atlantic Premier Soccer Cup in New Jersey, and Dylan is a member of the United Soccer Training Academy Raptors, who will play in the Columbia Fall Classic in Maryland.
“I’ve been basically building my way up,” Colby said of his play with different teams. “Everything is a building process. And some things are a lot different with Lehigh Valley – even just getting to play in the winter and play at the next level.
“Then you come back to Mountain View and you’re playing against kids who are seniors, who are bigger. It’s so helpful.”
Another key that has helped Mountain View this year was playing against Division I teams. Colby said facing programs like Abington Heights, which plays in Class AAA, really gave the Eagles a challenge.
“It’s definitely a privilege playing D-I teams – wow, what a privilege to have it,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a disadvantage to them, but it doesn’t help them as much as we’re getting the best of this deal.”
Mountain View has won six district titles since the Class A bracket was created in 2000, and the Eagles reached the state semifinals in 2006.
First Round Victory
He missed just wide right 12 minutes into the game.
Midway through the first half, his header from the crease went over the top of the net.
And 32 minutes in, Mountain View’s Joe Jarrow made a long run and blasted a point-blank shot that hit the goal post and skittered through the goal mouth before trickling harmlessly out of play.
With all those chances, it would have been easy for Jarrow to be a little antsy when one more scoring chance came his way.
Instead, the Eagles’ junior attacker showed incredible patience.
Settling a loose ball inside the 6-yard line, Jarrow whirled to avoid one defender, faked out another and ripped a low shot off the fingertips of goalie Kirk Wolfgang with 8:14 left, lifting the Eagles to the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class A soccer tournament with a 1-0 win over Tri-Valley on Tuesday at Dunmore High School.
“It was killing me not to shoot that ball because I wanted to left-foot it, but it was taking the worst bounces,” Jarrow said. “So I had to wait and just settle it. I went past the defender and got the lucky shot with the right foot.”
It was the second straight game where Jarrow gave the Eagles the first goal. This time, it was the only tally as Mountain View advanced to a Saturday matchup with South Williamsport, a 2-1 winner over Reading Holy Name.
“It definitely takes a toll on you,” senior midfielder Julian Williams said of waiting nearly 72 minutes to score. “You want to make perfect passes, you just want to score. But it was just not working out.”
Time after time, the Eagles had great scoring chances. And time after time, they couldn’t quite finish.
Williams boomed a shot just high with 18 minutes left in the game and sliced a nearly perfect ball to the far post with 11 minutes left, only to see Wolfgang make one of his 11 saves to keep it scoreless.
“I’d have been fine going into overtime,” Tri-Valley coach Ryan Cooper said. “Our team functions pretty well in overtime.
“Defense seems to win games and all it takes is that one that goes in. Sometimes that’s the way we have to play, especially when you are playing up against a team like Mountain View. We played about as good as we possibly could have. Mountain View is an awesome school. There’s a lot of talent there.”
Mountain View (10-7-1) outshot the Bulldogs (12-7-2), 31-8, and dominated the action at both ends.
One of Tri-Valley’s few scoring chances came on a 25-yard shot by Evan Snyder with 15 minutes left, but that shot was harmlessly high. Mountain View keeper Chris Hermann was credited with four saves, but none really tested him.
“You can’t get too nervous because you have to play your game,” Mountain View coach Roger Thomas said. “Look at our defense. “We don’t give up much in shots against this team. You have confidence in your defense, you have confidence in the offense you’re generating. You know you just have to get lucky or good, and we got a little bit of lucky and good tonight.”
Times-Shamrock writer Marty Myers contributed to this report.