State champs move on
By JON GERARDI
With just under four minutes to play, Hughesville’s Nick Sharayko and Evan Onufrak started lightly jogging toward the bench at Balls Mills as their substitute replacements went into the game. As they got closer to coming off the field, Hughesville coach Jim Dennis told his players to give the seniors a round of applause.
For Sharayko and Onufrak, it was the final game of their high school careers.
No doubt the Spartans wanted to shock the soccer world and upset the defending two-time state champions, but Hughesville never quite got the chance to do that. After the loss, while Lewisburg’s players were celebrating and back getting their bags off the bench, the Spartan players stayed on the turf at Balls Mills embracing one another for one last moment.
It marked the end of the Spartans season as Hughesville only had two shots against Lewisburg, who won 4-0 to advance to the District 4 Class AA semifinals on Tuesday in Danville at 8 against Central Columbia.
“They’re not the defending state champs for nothing. I know they lost a lot from last year, but these kids have been playing against those guys in practice year after year,” Dennis said. “We came in with a good game plan, and we executed it pretty well. They just executed it better.”
The Green Dragons didn’t need a lot of time to get things going offensively. After a handful of attempts were blocked or went wide, Lewisburg scored when Austin Gerlinski sent a great corner into the 18 right to Nate Liscum, who got it near the corner of the 6-yard box and sent it right to the far post for the early lead.
Lewisburg led 2-0 at the half when Gerlinski then scored off an assist by James Koconis with 12:42 left in the first half.
For Lewisburg coach Skip Kratzer, scoring the third goal roughly midway through the second half was a bit of relief to go ahead by three.
“It was huge. It allows us to try some things, put some guys out there that we wouldn’t try in certain areas just try to get a look to see how things go, put them in a big game in a big situation,” Kratzer said. “So it also kind of settles us down. Settles my nerves at least.”
The Green Dragons kept up the pressure in the second half, firing nine of their 15 shots, and all but one came from inside of the 18.
Lewisburg scored its final goal in the final 40 seconds when Liscum scored his second goal of the second half.
While Hughesville only recorded two shots — one per half — the Spartans did attempt to get things going offensively to counter and attack a solid Lewisburg team.
“We kind of knew we weren’t going to get many chances, they’ve only given up nine goals all season. Our goal was to play strong defensively, try to break a counter attack and score and first half we had two great chances to do that,” Dennis said.
L–Nate Liscum (Austin Gerlinski), 32:13. L–Gerlinski (James Koconis), 12:42. L–Ben Liscum, 26:32. L–Ben Liscum, 0:39.
Shots: H 1, L 15. Corners: H 1, L 10. Saves: H (Steven Millheim) 10, L (Sam Miller) 1.
Records: Hughesville (8-11), Lewisburg (18-1).