Green Hornets champs in D4 for the first time
Nic Ingerick stood near midfield trying to encourage the near max capacity crowd at Kenneth Robbins Stadium to get loud. Millville had just gotten a yellow card and with under two minutes remaining, Wellsboro could sense it.
Their years of frustration and coming up just short in districts was a few ticks of the clock away from ending.
Wellsboro scored a goal early in the first half and held Millville scoreless for all 80 minutes as the Green Hornets defeated Millville, 1-0, in the District 4 Class AA championship Thursday night.
The Hornets (18-1-1) move on to the state tournament where they will face District 3 runner-up Greenwood at a District 4 site.
It’s Wellsboro’s first district championship in boys soccer, as it has come up short the last four years. The Green Hornets lost in the district final in 2013 and fell in the semifinals the last three years. The years of frustration for this group has ended as the Green Hornets have finally lifted that district plaque and soon a 2017 District 4 Class A Champions banner will hang from the wall at Wellsboro’s gym.
“It’s been a grind. These seniors came in the year after we lost to Bloomsburg in the district championship game. And I think we all thought it would be easy to get back here,” said Wellsboro coach John Shaffer. “Then we lose in the district semis, we lose in the district semis, we lose in the district semis. These guys were dedicated to getting to this game. Then once we got to this game, it was just about putting your best foot forward.”
In 2013, as a seventh grader, Brett Rudy watched from the bleachers as Wellsboro fell to Bloomsburg in the district final. Seeing the disappointment on the players’ faces, the junior wanted to be a part of winning the program’s first district title.
“I think four years ago we lost the championship and I was just young watching and I was just like, I don’t want to be there one day,” Rudy said. “We kept working. Two straight years, two straight semifinals and we lost to East Juniata. We knew we had to come back. We knew we had to get better. We got better and we finally won.”
Wellsboro scored the game’s only goal in the eighth minute when Noah Fitch sent a perfect cross into the 6-yard box where Kaeden Mann knocked it in off a Millville defender for the 1-0 advantage. That would be all the Wellsboro defense and goalie Nate Redell would need.
Millville struggled to get anything going offensively as the Green Hornet defenders contested nearly every shot attempt, blocking many of them, and the ones that got through, Redell scooped up. The junior goalkeeper made five saves to earn the shutout.
“We scored something like 130-plus goals this year and a lot of people knew us for our goal-scoring potential. But I built this program over the last eight years on defense,” Shaffer said. “When we were not very good, it was all about trying to win games 1-nil and so we knew for all the goals we scored, in the big moments it was going to be not giving up goals.
The Wellsboro midfielders and forwards did a great job of controlling possession in the final 10 minutes, not allowing Millville to get anything going and the Quakers weren’t even able to get the ball past midfield in the final two minutes.
Goals: Wellsboro- Kaeden Mann (Noah Fitch), 7:48.
Shots: M 14, W 14. Shots on goal: M 6, W 5. Corners: M 5, W 1. Saves: M 5 (Gage Michael); W 5 (Nate Redell)
Next: Wellsboro vs. Greenwood at District 4 site (Time and place TBA)