HAC-II boys soccer: Loyalsock was better than record showed
Looking strictly at the win column, Loyalsock didn’t have the best year last season. The Lancers won just four games and missed the playoffs, ending an impressive streak of consecutive postseason appearances that dated back to the 1990s.
But for coach Pete Ruhl, he knows his team is better than what that record indicated.
“The positive is that we beat and tied some teams that made the playoffs last year. Last year we had four games where we had leads that turned into two ties and two losses,” Ruhl said. “Swing those four games and we go 8-10-0 and make playoffs as a six-, seven- or eight-seed. I think that is a positive now in that the boys are clearly aware of how close we were in numerous games and what needs to be done to close out games.”
The Lancers have plenty of returners from last year’s team to build off and use those close games as building blocks to improve and get back into the playoffs. Loyalsock brings back senior Charlie Hunt and juniors Alex Schluter, Ben Wescott, Quinn Deitrick and Zach Stopper, who Ruhl noted were key five returners.
“We have a number of other juniors and sophomores, in addition to two freshmen, who have already shown a great deal of promise in an off-season tournament and at our Warrior Run Scrimmage Day.”
Last year, District 4 Class AA runners-up Midd-West won the HAC-II after a 14-4-1 season and an 8-1-1 league record. Mifflinburg — the District 4 Class AAA runners-up — finished second at 14-6 (7-3) and Danville went 12-6-2 and 6-2-2 to take third followed by Bloomsburg (9-6-3), Loyalsock and Milton.
And both those district runners-up from last year return plenty. For Midd-West, they bring back HAC-II first-team midfilder Cole Sauer, a pair of midfielders who were HAC-II second-team in Devan Leister and Evan Liddington and a second-team defender with Hunter Gilbert.
Mifflinburg returns HAC-II first-team forward Mason Novobilski, first-team midfielder Gabe DeFacis, second-team midfielder Eli Yoder and second-team defender Tyler Bailey.
And for Danville, the Ironmen bring back all-state midfielder Jacob Foster.
While those three teams were at the top of the HAC-II last year, Ruhl knows the Lancers have the ability to compete with them and add more wins this season.
“I expect us to be in better shape and much more mentally prepared for games,” Ruhl said.
Loyalsock did lose three HAC-II all-stars from last year in forward Andrew Czap, goalie Matt Loeh and defender Austin Martin.
Another team that didn’t have a ton of wins last year in the HAC-II was Milton, which went 2-16, the worst record for the program since winning just one game in 2012.
And like Loyalsock, the Black Panthers record wasn’t a great indication of the team on the field.
“We were a much better team than our 2016 record showed. HAC-2 was a very good league from top to bottom last year and we were competitive in nearly every game,” Milton coach Eric Yoder said. “Our poor record has definitely provided motivation to work hard this offseason and preseason to get better.”
The Black Panthers bring back seniors Alex Yoder, Cole Geiger and Tyler Leeser, who Eric Yoder sees as the leaders of the team after playing significant roles for Milton during their varsity careers.
“We will rely heavily on these three to provide our offensive firepower,” Yoder said. “Joel Yoder, a junior, was a key to our defense last year and has improved significantly in the offseason.”
Yoder also sees sophomore Colton Loreman stepping up this year in goal, in addition to Owen Yoder, Tyler Hendershot, Eric Baker, Owen Lilley, Ian Lilley and Dylan Hicholas.
Milton graduated Bem Babakov, a HAC-II second-team forward, and Brent Artley, a HAC-II second-team defender.
Coach: Pete Ruhl
Assistants: John Karichner, Brian Bustin, Matt Cardillo
Classification: Class AA
Last year: 4-11-3 (2-6-2 HAC)
Last playoff appearance: 2015
Roster: Seniors: Justin Downs, Charlie Hunt. Juniors: Quinn Deitrick, Alek Hamilton, Trace Haller, Jonah Kiessling, Connor Rude, Alex Schluter, Niko Singh, Zach Stopper, Chris Watson, Ben Wescott, Ty Whitmoyer. Sophomores: Connor Albaugh, Kaleb Dabback, Tyler Franquet, Connor Gross, Alex Heiser, Yahya Khan, Joey LaCerra, Kit Lang, Alex Reed, Josh Rosario, Curtis Trowbridge. Freshmen: Claeb Albaugh, Matt Barone, Liam Bastian, Ian Bowes, Jacob Daniels, Brady Dowell, Michael Hall, Andrew Jabbour, Jay Oaks, Samuel Rosario, Brennan Sullivan, Daniel Tripp, Ryan Vincent.
Coach: Eric Yoder
Assistants: Brett Ballo, Tim Witter
Classification: Class AA
Last year: 2-16 (0-10 HAC) worst record since going 1-10-3 in 2012
Last playoff appearance: 2014
Roster: Seniors: Cole Geiger, Alex Yoder, Tyler Leeser. Juniors: Anthony Ayala, Zachary Burkhart, Lucas Burkhart, Joel Yoder, Josh Kern. Sophomores: Colton Loreman, Ian Lilley, Dylan Nicholas, Eli Yoder, Paul Brown, Eric Baker, Owen Yoder, Tyler Hendershot, Owen Lilley. Freshmen: Cameron Crites, Jamir Wilt, Pierce Edinger.