Watching the Warrior Run and Lewisburg girls soccer teams play Saturday morning put a monster smile across my face.
All I could think about throughout the game was how entertaining the Class AA bracket is going to be. With schools like Montoursville, Danville and Hughesville still in the mix, the road to the postseason is going to be a fun one.
Even Lewisburg's coach Jose Vega, who just watched his team narrowly miss tying the game in the final minutes against Warrior Run, agreed when asked about the quality of soccer on display.
"It could have gone either way, we both had chances," Vega said after the match. "I saw two teams that were evenly matched. Warrior Run deserves a lot of credit. They are a great, physical team and they do the little things well."
The game certainly could have gone either way with multiple chances smashing off the crossbar and posts.
Taylor Landis, who tallied the game's lone goal, led the Defenders' offense and has posted three goals in three games. Lewisburg was led by a similar goal-scorer in Emily Cole, who nearly leveled the score at a goal apiece, but was stopped by Olivia George.
My Saturday nightcap featured another team with postseason goals much larger than competing within the district tournament. The surprise, though, came from the opponent.
Loyalsock defeated the Williamsport girls, 2-0, and looked ready to defend its District 4 Class A championship, but the Millionaires, who had won nine games in their previous four seasons, played a much more determined second half and showed improvement. The Millionaires forced shots on goal, defended corners well and received a dynamic performance from Reilly Gossner in goal.
"We want games like this to prove our meddle and see where we are," Williamsport coach J. Scott McNeill said. "If we lose 1-0 or 2-0 at least we have a barometer as to where we are and where we can go as we get deeper and deeper into the season."
And McNeill hasn't been shy about mentioning his goals for the season.
"I told the team that District 2 doesn't have a .500 requirement and if we can get three, four, five wins under our belt, we're going to go over and compete for a medal," McNeill said. "That's the goal."
IN SAFE KEEPING
Despite losing a solid group of goalkeepers to graduation, several have stood out throughout the area and made the position a strength.
As I mentioned earlier, I was impressed with Gossner and George. And who could forget Loyalsock's Amanda Daneker, who in my opinion is one of the top keepers in the entire Heartland Athletic Conference.
The keeper who really stood out to me this week was Williamsport's Tanner Kreisher.
Kreisher stopped seven shots on goal in the team's, 1-0, overtime win over Shikellamy, including two late stops in front of the goal to force the extra time. Once in the added minutes, Ben Hill made Kreisher's efforts worth it as he punched in a goal for Williamsport's first win. Kreisher also stopped six shots to help Williamsport escape with a 0-0 draw against Milton.
"Even last year he saved our season in so many games with fingertip saves," Kaar said. "Our game Monday, he had two big fingertip saves to keep us in the game and we came back and won that game."
TOP 5 GIRLS CLUBS
1. Loyalsock (3-0, 1-0): Although Loyalsock can look shaky at times, it managed to clear two big hurdles last week with wins over Mount Carmel and Williamsport. Allie Pagana, who has really showed a level of physicality to her game, has helped lead the offense in the team's three wins. Pagana netted a the team's lone goal in a, 1-0, win over Mount Carmel. She also scored in the team's, 2-0, defeat of Williamsport.
2. Warrior Run (4-0, 3-0): The Defenders look in mid-season form and blew through a difficult week with matchups up against Southern Columbia, Hughesville and Lewisburg. Warrior Run went 3-0 over in those games and outscored the opposition 5-0. Olivia George has proved to be a solid weapon at keeper, while the midfield has dominated. Taylor Landis has been stellar and leads the offense with six goals in four games.
3. Montoursville (3-1, 1-1): Carly Mill recored a brace and Lana Spilter added a goal and two assists as Montourville defeated Selinsgrove, 3-1. The win came on the heels of the team's first regular-season loss in more than a year. And it proves just how dangerous the Warriors still are. The loss could end up being one of those beneficial points of the season, but with league contests against Milton and Williamsport upcoming, along with a non-league match against Dallas, Montoursville will need to continue to move forward.
4. Lewisburg (2-1):?The Green Dragons sure looked convincing against Warrior Run Saturday morning. The defense made a few mistakes, which gave Warrior Run enough room to get a goal. But other than that small miscue, Lewisburg stayed right with Warrior Run. Emily Cole is a tenacious forward with plenty of ability to score goals and Sienna Fisher is one of the top keepers in the area.
5. Hughesville (4-1): The Spartans failed to present any type of challenge to Warrior Run, but rebounded nicely for a, 5-0, win over Muncy. Brittany Snyder posted her second hat trick of the season in the five-goal win. In order to stay in the hunt, Hughesville is going to have to figure out how to beat the better teams in the division. As far as showing improvement, the Spartans have looked much better, and will have to continue to add to their surging offense and defense.
Top field player: Emily Potter, Warrior Run:?Hey, it's not always going to be the goal scorers that occupy this spot. Potter subbed in against Southern Columbia and did a fantastic job of controlling the midfield. A few days later, and she was starting against Lewisburg doing the same thing.
Top Keeper: Riley Gossner, Williamsport: It might have been a 2-0 loss that got her this spot, but I was impressed with her abilities against Loyalsock. In what could have easily been a much wider final score, Gossner was alert and showed absolutely no signs of hesitation when jumping in for balls.
TOP BOYS CLUBS
1. Warrior Run (8-0):?The Defenders defeated Sullivan County last week and opened this week with a, 2-0, win over league foe Loyalsock. Warrior Run was led by goals from Austin Bower and Elias George and from assists by Korrey Sidler and Masen Wagner, respectively. The Defenders will continue to push with their offensive pressure with upcoming tests against Central Columbia and Midd-West.
2. Lewisburg (6-0-1):?Jacob Lightman, Nikolas Jenesch and Udoka Eze have provided plenty of offense for the Green Dragons as they are once again on top of the HAC-I standings.
3. Montoursville (3-3): The Warriors leveled their record at .500 with a 2-0 win over Jersey Shore. In the contest, Montoursville received goals from Devin Marriott and Jim McMahon. Marriot also tallied a goal in the team's, 2-1, win over Shamokin. Montoursville's week ends with a contest against Mount Carmel. The Warriors face a difficult week ahead with contests against Hughesville, Loyalsock and Milton.
4. Loyalsock (3-5): Loyalsock had a difficult week with contests against undefeated Warrior Run and league favorite Central Columbia. The Lancers dropped both contests and only managed to score a single goal. The Lancers, who tied Jersey Shore Wednesday, take on Williamsport Saturday morning. The Lancers need to win one of the two games remaining to build for a tough week ahead.
5. Sullivan County (3-2):?The most impressive feat of Sullivan County's week was overcoming an early goal against Southern Columbia. After the initial goal, Doug Shrimp led the Griffins on a charge that saw them respond with three unanswered goals to secure the win. Shrimp also tallied the team's lone goal in a 1-0 win over Millville.
Top field player: Ammar Sabanovic, Muncy:? Mark my words, anytime you score six goals in a game there will be a pretty good chance you're going to make this list. Sabanovic even threw in an assist for good measure.
Top Keeper: Tanner Kreisher, Williamsport: Kreisher made two big saves in the final moments of regulation, continued his form in extra time and helped Williamsport defeat Shikellamy, 1-0, on the road.
Crossley covers soccer for the Sun-Gazette and he may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org