Lewisburg coach Skip Kratzer peered out onto the field as Bronson Ferster placed the ball for a corner kick. He didn't see Udoka Eze or Calvin Reif. Two of Lewisburg's best players in the air stood on the sideline with their coach, catching a breather.
With his team struggling to consistently put touches together, Kratzer knew his team's best opportunity to score could come off a set piece. He just didn't expect it to come with Eze and Reif on the bench.
The coach, however, has learned to expect the unexpected with Max Reed. Reed made a run to the near post and flicked in Ferster's corner off his head for the game's only goal and the Green Dragons advanced to Saturday's PIAA Class AA quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory over District 2 champion Coughlin.
Daniel Cole of Lewisburg, right, and Frank Castellano of Coughlin battle for possession Tuesday at Loyalsock.
The Green Dragons (19-2-1), who lost in last season's first round of the PIAA playoffs, will play Tulpehocken, a 3-2 winner over Saucon Valley, on Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
"We are always dangerous on set plays, I think," said Kratzer. "Humorously, I looked at that play and thought all my big guys were standing next to me on the bench and thought, boy I wish I had some of them in and there's Max sliding in and finding one on his head."
Reed, a sophomore who scored a goal and assisted on another during Lewisburg's district title win over Selinsgrove, admitted he typically isn't very good directing the ball with his head but his assist on Saturday skimmed off his head and so did Tuesday's goal with 6:44 remaining in the first half.
"I'm not very good with my head," said Reed. "I was just trying to chip it up a little bit. The outcome was good, I guess."
Coughlin (16-2-1) nearly tied the game with three minutes left in the first half when Travis Keil worked himself free of a Lewisburg defender and had a golden opportunity deep inside the penalty box. His shot, however, sailed high of the crossbar and Lewisburg escaped with a 1-0 lead entering the half.
Minus Keil's shot, Lewisburg's defense kept most of Coughlin's shot attempts from outside the 18-yard line. Freshman Logan Cho played many of the low skipping balls with ease, avoiding any disastrous rebound opportunities.
Cho did surrender a rebound in the 68th minute and his deflection left a tantalizing ball in front of the goal box with Lewisburg's keeper stretched on the ground and out of the play. Ben Koch, though, kept the ball out of harms way with a strong clear and the Green Dragons held on for the final dozen minutes to become just one of eight boys teams to be playing in Class AA.
"It's just in the moment and you want to get it out of the area," said Koch, a senior. "Cho did a really good job this game and just that one block, it's our job to get it out and that's what I wanted to do there."
L - Max Reed (Bronson Ferster), 33:16.
Corners: C - 6, L - 1. Shots: C - 10, L - 9. Shots on goal: C - 7, L - 5. Saves: C - 4 (Josh Featherman); L - 7 (Logan Cho).
Records: Lewisburg 19-2-1, Coughlin 16-2-1. Next: Lewisburg vs. TBA (Sat.).