Jon Gerardi on soccer: Goalies coming up big

Montoursville knew coming into this season that it wasn’t going to be easy to replace Ben King in goal. But looking at last year’s JV squad, they saw potential in goalie Ian Plankenhorn.

He was young, but Montoursville’s coaches liked what they saw from him.

On Saturday, Plankenhorn was solid against Loyalsock, routinely making some excellent stopsand showing he can step up in goal.

“Ian is a phenomenal goalkeeper. He’s young, he’s very athletic, but he’s very coachable and he’s going to be a real good goalkeeper in years to come,” Montoursville assistant coach Ryan Hunter said after Saturday’s 3-1 win over Loyalsock. “Our team is very, very young. We’re developing early and all these guys, we’re going to have some special players here in the future.”

Plankenhorn had six saves against Loyalsock and allowed only one goal on a well-placed shot off a Charlie Hunt assist.

“He’s crazy. He’s only 5-6, he’s quick, has a really good jump,” Montoursville’s Dominic Caputo said. “He’s really going to help us out this year in the bigger games we have.”

And Plankenhorn is just one of many area goalies having a ton of success and impressing people early on. Take Williamsport’s J.R. Confair, for instance.

The Millionaire goalie recorded his 26th career shutout Tuesday in a 4-0 win against Jersey Shore. It was his play against Lewisburg on Thursday, though, that may have highlighted just how solid a goalie he is.

Numerous times in that game, Lewisburg peppered Confair, trying to score an equalizing goal early in the first half and into the second.

But time and time again, Confair did what he does best and that was stop any shot fired at him.

“He’s great. I didn’t check the book as far as how many saves, but I know he kept us in it,” Williamsport coach Lee Kaar said after last Thursday’s loss to Lewisburg. “We’re up 1-0 and he made two, three huge saves just to keep us at 1-0. Without him, Lewisburg is looking to run over you. He’s outstanding back there in the net.”

And so far this year, that superb play by goalies in the area has been highlighted almost daily.

Eighteen area goalies have either a shutout or combined with a player for a shutout in both boys and girls soccer. And most teams don’t even have five games played yet.

Warrior Run’s Tucker Hays has three shutouts, Hughesville’s Steven Millheim has combined for two shutouts and Confair has two for Williamsport.

On the girls side, Grace Schreckengast has an area-high three shutouts and recorded her 35th career shutout Tuesday. Williamsport’s Lila Vogelsong already has two shutouts and first-year starter Avery Zales from Montoursville has a shutout as well.

And even players without shutouts have made some excellent plays so far, including South’s Alyssa Johnson, for instance, coming up huge in a season-opener against Bloomsburg and on Tuesday against a talented Loyalsock team.

Or Jersey Shore’s Calvin Lesser, who had seven saves in a win over Selinsgrove, including a stop on a penalty kick en route to a win last week.

With as much solid goalie play that has been seen so far this year — be it great diving block to knock away a ball or a highlight-type diving catch — it’s safe to say there’s plenty more great defensive play to happen as the season moves forward.

A COMEBACK WIN

When you can limit Sullivan County’s Macy McCarthy to just one goal, that’s a good effort from your defense and goalie. But when you not only do that, but combine it with rallying to score two late goals in a two-minute span to beat the Griffins, that’s a good all-around effort.

That’s precisely what the Muncy girls did as Ashlynn Fowler and Sasha McMonigle scored the game-tying and eventual game-winning goal, respectively, in a 3-2 win against the Griffins on Monday afternoon.

“With the positive team attitude and work ethic these young ladies have, I knew they would play tough to the end,” Muncy coach Kyle Bowen said. “I am so proud of the effort given by all to be able to come back from a goal down and win.

“Being able to rally back against a team like Sullivan County solidifies the point: you never give up on yourself or your team. I believe these girls will continue to work hard throughout the season.”

75 AND COUNTING

Speaking of Sullivan County, McCarthy recorded her 75th career goal in that loss against Muncy on Monday. McCarthy is putting together an impressive career at Sullivan County.

The senior became the school’s all-time leading goal scorer late last season and is adding onto her own mark this year with every game.

She already has two hat tricks in the first two games Sullivan County played.

EARNING THE FIRST WIN

Both the Central Mountain girls and Loyalsock boys earned their first wins of the season this past week. The Lancers defeated Bloomsburg, 3-1, on Tuesday afternoon to earn the first victory of the year after beginning 2017 at 0-3. Charlie Hunt had a goal and assist while Zach Stopper and Kaleb Dabback also scored.

Central Mountain defeated Jersey Shore, 3-0, thanks to a hat trick from Sloane Tressler.

“Absolutely massive to gain our first win,” Central Mountain first-year coach Cole Black said. “Sloane has been a solid attacking force for us so far this season.”

COLLEGE

Numerous area players are listed on various college soccer rosters. Here’s a look at a handful of area players playing in college this past week:

• Last week, Susquehanna men traveled to Lycoming, a game which saw numerous area graduates play for Susquehanna. Lewisburg grad Max Reed and Warrior Run grad Elias George both started while Jersey Shore grad Jacob Butzler got time as a substitute. And while he didn’t play at all in goal, Montoursville grad Ben King is listed on Susquehanna’s roster. Mansfield grad Nathaniel Wilston came off the bench for Lycoming in the Warriors’ win.

At Messiah, South grad Dakota Rosenberg has played four games so far this season.

• On the women’s side, Warrior Run grad Madi Welliver has played in two of Lycoming’s games, recording 147 minutes of play and having 11 saves for the Warriors.

Montoursville grad Bri Ulmer saw time off the bench as a substitute at Saint Francis on Friday at Georgetown. She recorded 21 minutes.

Montoursville grad Carly Mill has started all three games at Tusculum so far this year, recording an assist as well.

Muncy grad Carly DeVore started and Jersey Shore grad Emily Bell got time as a substitute in Penn College’s 2-2 tie with Keystone this past Thursday.

Lock Haven women defeated Edinboro, 1-0 in overtime, and Central Mountain grad Bree Hilty earned the win in goal for LHU, recording six saves. Warrior Run grad Erika Landis started for LHU.

JON GERARDI’S WEEKLY RANKINGS

BOYS SOCCER

1. Lewisburg (3-1): The Green Dragons went 1-1 this past week. After putting up an exciting game against Williamsport on Thursday in which Anders Dollard had a heck of a header to win with roughly 90 seconds remaining in the second overtime period, Lewisburg fell to Danville on Saturday, 1-0. Lewisburg coach Skip Kratzer noted after Saturday’s win they didn’t expect to run the table and go undefeated. Don’t expect Lewisburg to dwell on that loss for too long though either.

2. Williamsport (3-1): Give the Millionaires a lot of credit, they played Lewisburg extremely tough and had a great game in that 2-1 double overtime loss to the Green Dragons. But Williamsport rebounded with a convincing 4-0 shutout over Jersey Shore on Tuesday, as both Tiarnan Ferry and Tom Pombor both scored two goals each.

3. Wellsboro (3-0-1): The Green Hornets outscored two opponents this past week by a 13-1 margin, first beating Galeton, 6-1, before winning over Northeast Bradford, 7-0, on Tuesday. Tanner Runyan scored twice against Galeton and dished out two assists over NEB while Brett Rudy hat a hat trick over NEB. Nolan Lohr also had three assists over NEB. The Green Hornets are once again showing they’re a solid defensive team this season.

4. Warrior Run (3-2): The Defenders went 2-1 this past week, first blanking South, 3-0, before losing to Selinsgrove in double overtime, 3-2, and beating Mount Carmel in a rout, 13-0. It’s early in the year, but the Defenders are showing offensively, they have weapons to spread the ball around. Jordan Morrison had a goal against South and two against Selinsgrove, Tyrese Hazzoum had two in the win over Mount Carmel and many others have found the back of the net so far this year. That’s a positive for Warrior Run as the season gets rolling.

5. Hughesville (3-1): Austin Lewis and Justus Leighow are forming a nice duo for the Spartans offensively, not to mention a handful of others who are finding the net. Lewis had two goals in a 4-3 loss to Sullivan before scoring in a 3-2 win over Southern. The Spartans could be a dangerous team as the year progresses.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Montoursville’s Dominic Caputo — Caputo had a hat trick and dished out two assists in a 6-5 win over Southern Columbia and then added two goals in a 3-1 win over Loyalsock on Saturday. Caputo’s a solid player offensively and should keep making an impact with the Warriors as the year goes on.

GIRLS SOCCER

1. Loyalsock (4-0): Here’s a fun stat for you, the Lancers have played four games so far and have allowed only one goal in those games. This past week, the Lancers defeated Williamsport (3-1), Warrior Run (1-0) and South (2-0), playing three quality opponents. That’s a credit to the Lancers staying focused game by game. Juliana Cruz had three assists in the win over Williamsport as three Lancers scored in Jenna Gardner, Rhiallie Jessell and Sam Stopper.

2. Williamsport (3-1): The Millionaires went 2-1 this past week, first losing to a solid Loyalsock team, 3-1, before rebounding with two solid wins, beating Shamokin (1-0) and Shikellamy (2-1). Nina Schappell and Sammi Reeder both scored in the win over Shikellamy.

3. Montoursville (3-0): The Warriors only played one game this past week, but did blank Danville in a 1-0 victory on Monday. Anna Schult scored her first goal of the year for Montoursville while Avery Zales posted three shutouts.

4. Warrior Run (1-2): Don’t let the Defenders’ record fool you, they are a real solid team. The Defenders came away with a 2-1 double overtime win over a good Hughesville team as Madie Majcher scored the game-winner with 18 seconds to play in the second overtime period. Warrior Run then lost consecutive games to two very tough teams in both Loyalsock (1-0) and Southern Columbia (1-0, OT).

5. Sullivan County (2-1): Macy McCarthy has been on a tear this past week, posting back-to-back hat tricks (against Neumann and Montgomery) before scoring a goal in a 3-2 loss to Muncy. While McCarthy is the school’s all-time scoring leader, the Griffins have had other players step up to score including Sophia Springman, Madison Burke, Bethany Beinlich, Leah Beinlich, Savannah Baldwin and Kerigan Wettlauffer. The Sullivan defense also didn’t allow Neumann to record a single shot and limited Montgomery to just four.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Loyalsock’s Rhiallie Jessell — The Loyalsock senior came up clutch this past week. She scored a goal in a 3-1 win over Williamsport before she helped lift the Lancers to two big wins over Warrior Run and South Williamsport. Against the Defenders, Jessell scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win and she converted two big penalty kicks against South Williamsport for the only goals in a 2-0 victory to keep the Lancers undefeated early in the season.

Jon Gerardi covers high school soccer for The Sun-Gazette. Email comments to jgerardi@sungazette.com or follow him on Twitter @JonGerardi.

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