At the beginning of the season, Lewisburg faced a problem no high school team with optimistic hopes for the season wants to stare down.
With the start of each new high school season, teams go through the normal procedure of replacing all the graduated seniors. Some players, though, are a little more difficult to replace. And every once an awhile there is a player that simply can't be replaced.
That was the position Lewisburg found itself in at the start of the season. Four-year starter Chris Gallagher, arguably one of the top keepers to ever come through this area, left a sizable hole to fill.
The team replaced Gallagher with freshman Logan Cho and haven't looked back since. Cho stopped quality shots on goal throughout Lewisburg's 1-0 win over Coughlin Tuesday in the first round of the PIAA?playoffs.
Now Cho and the rest of the Green Dragon boys soccer team have their aim set for a second round contest against District 3 champion Tulpehocken.
The second round contest is slated to start at noon today at Milton Hershey High School, with a trip to Tuesday's PIAA Class AA semifinal on the line.
"We have a lot of respect for him. He is a great kid and a great keeper," Ben Koch said of Cho. "Chris Gallagher started before him and we just kept the tradition going."
Since starting district postseason play Cho has been exceptional. In four district playoff games, Cho has let up just one goal and that came in a 2-1 win over Selinsgrove.
"Logan Cho has been phenomenal. He protected that goal very well tonight," Max Reed said of Cho after the Coughlin win. "I'm surprised. He comes in with a good attitude and he's ready for anything. He's surprised everyone."
Tulpehocken defeated District 11 runner-up Saucon Valley, 3-2, and presents a unique challenge for the Green Dragons.
"It feels great (getting to this point), especially as a senior," Koch said. "I love it and we have a chance, we have a chance."
"Last year I think we almost took it easy in the first round of states thinking we have seen the Scranton Prep team before so we sort of had a letdown. Sometimes there is that sigh of relief when you make it to the state playoffs that your season is complete," Lewisburg coach Skip Kratzer said. "We had a big talk at practice that our season is far from over. We have four games and this is one of them. Everyone got a copy of the state brackets to put up. I said you got four games and don't think about taking one off until then."
Lewisburg, like most District 4 teams, benefitted from a difficult regular season and postseason run. In the District 4 tournament, Lewisburg defeated league foes Danville and Selinsgrove. Both beat Lewisburg in the regular season.
"HAC-I is a tough division when you have to see Selinsgrove, Danville and Midd-West twice and then you have to turn around and play Selinsgrove and Danville to win a District 4 championships it's good preparation for this level of play," Kratzer said. "Very physical and fast. We get to know each other so well they can point out, if you don't know what your weaknesses are, they'll point them out for you. That definitely helps us get ready for us."
And with a young keeper playing at the top of his game, plus a core group of players featuring goals scorers like Reed and Nikolas Janesch, Lewisburg hopes it has the talent to add more games to its schedule.