Lancer boys fall in quarters to Bloom

BLOOMSBURG – Loyalsock knew it faced a daunting challenge on Saturday night in the District 4 Class A boys soccer quarterfinals on the turf at Blue Jay Stadium in Central Columbia. Bloomsburg’s No. 1 seed and undefeated record were reasons enough to believe that.

Seeing the Panthers on the field only furthered the point.

Bloomsburg took a two-goal lead by halftime and scored three second-half goals in a 6-minute span to defeat the No. 8 seed Lancers, 5-0.

“We gave up that first goal because of some miscommunication and then we were rattled,” Loyalsock coach Andy Zimmerman said. “Then they got another and once that third one happens the floodgates open. That is usually how that happens. Keep a team within two and you have a fighting chance, but once that third goal goes in, heads are down and then the other team is rolling.”

Jon Nixon had two goals and two assists for the Panthers (19-0), who will play Meadowbrook Christian in the district semifinals early next week at a time and place to be determined.

Loyalsock, which reached the district quarterfinals for a second consecutive season, finished the season 12-8.

“I told our guys next season starts (today),” Zimmerman said. “It’s up to the guys what they want to do. If they put in the work, they have a chance to be in a better spot next year.”

The Lancers were hoping to be in a good spot by halftime last night and they were in position to, even after allowing a wide-open Nixon to open the scoring in the 14th minute.

Loyalsock’s defense did an admirable job of sustaining the pressure of a fast and skilled Bloomsburg offense for the majority of the first half but Tristan Wright added a second goal with 10:42 remaining, drilling a right-footed volley shot into the far corner of the net.

Loyalsock goalkeeper Ryan Loeh, who finished with seven saves, made a point-blank stop with 5 minutes left in the half when the senior was somehow able to get his hands in front of his face and ball that kept the score 2-0.

The relentless Panthers, though, just kept coming in the second half. Mark DeLucca opened a stretch of three goals in a 6-minute span when Loeh surrendered a rebound on a Nixon cross. Liam Harmon scored less than 3 minutes later and Nixon closed the scoring another 3 minutes later when he again was left all alone in front of Loeh.

“That’s a really good team that we lost to,” Zimmerman said. “They didn’t have any weaknesses anywhere.”

Bloomsburg’s ball possession limited the chances of Matt Hibbs and the Lancers. Loyalsock had a corner early in the first half and free kick from about 31 yards out later in the half but neither set piece led to a shot a goal. Two more corners came in the second half, but again Bloomsburg’s strong backline turned away the Lancers.

Loyalsock finished with just two shots on goal, but neither were taken in a dangerous area, making it an easy night for Bloomsburg keeper Colin Warren.

The lack of offense and constant pressure from the Panthers frustrated the Lancers, who were given two yellow cards in the second half, including one that turned into a red for Josiah Covert after he was also booked in the first half.

B – Jon Nixon, 13:38; B – Tristan Wright, 29:18; B – Mark DeLucca (Nixon), 48:55; B – Liam Harmon (Nixon), 51:23; B – Nixon (Lance Klingler), 54:26.

Shots on goal: L – 2, B – 12. Corners: L – 3, B – 2. Saves: Loyalsock (Ryan Loeh 7); Bloomsburg (Colin Warren 2).

Records: Bloomsburg 19-0, Loyalsock 12-8. Next: Bloomsburg vs. Meadowbrook Christian, TBA