Green Hornets earn first PIAA soccer win

Tyus Yeingst took to what looked to be an open shot. But sliding in came Nic Ingerick, putting himself in harm’s way, blocking the shot. Later, Luke Myers wound up his right leg as he looked to have an open shot on Nate Redell’s goal. But again, sliding in at the last moment was Noah Fitch.

Wellsboro de­fend­ers pressured, contested and made easy shots for Green­wood a myth as the Green Hornets flew around, mak­ing slide tackles and blocking shots as they came away with the 1-0 win over Greenwood in the PIAA Class A opening round Tuesday evening at Balls Mills.

Fitch scored the game-winning goal in the 27th minute and it was Wellsboro’s (20-1-1) first state playoff win in program history after winning its first district title last week.

“We talk about having artists and soldiers and artists are our attackers. They have a little bit more of creative freedom and our defenders and our holding mids are our soldiers and we expect them to not do anything flashy, not get much credit but just fight and battle and put their bodies on the line and man did they,” said Wellsboro coach John Shaffer. “They were soldiers today for the team.”

The Wellsboro defense held strong for the entire 80 minutes as though Greenwood had 17 shots, most of them weren’t quality looks. Nate Redell made six saves, including a big one in the 10th minute after a shot hit off the cross bar. But the Wellsboro defense did the heavy lifting as it buckled down in the second half and didn’t allow a shot on goal despite Greenwood having six corner kicks in the second half.

“All their hard work pays off. We were winning games this year, 14-0, 13-0, 10-0 and everyday in training, I hammered the defense. We trained and we trained and we trained and I just kept telling them that defense in the end was going to be the key,” Shaffer said. “We scored a lot of goals this year but in the end not giving up goals was going to be key. All their hard work through the summer and in the season when we were winning games when I was stressing about shutouts, it paid off.”

Greenwood’s defense made a misplay of its own on the Green Hornets’ goal. After a pass deflected off the shin guards of a Greenwood defender, Fitch was there to take advantage as he took a touch to his right and blasted the shot in for the game-winning goal at 26:57.

“It was very special for me. I don’t know, the ball was going right through the defenders and it landed right at my feet and I was able to take one touch around the defender and just shot it,” Fitch said. “And man it went straight into the back of the net and I was just speechless cause I was like, ‘Wow, this just happened.’ It was the best feeling ever.”

With just 10 seconds remaining, it looked like Greenwood was about to force overtime on a corner kick as a Greenwood player rose from the scrum and put his head on the ball but the shot just went wide right as pandemonium soon ensued.

“I’m very happy to be able to win the first state game in league history for Wellsboro and I’m just excited to play on,” Fitch added.

Goals: Wellsboro- Noah Fitch (UA), 26:57.

Shots: G 17, W 9. Shots on goal: G 6, W 6. Corners: G 9, W 3. Saves: G 5 (Bryce Dalpiaz); W 6 (Nate Redell)

Records: Wellsboro (20-1-1); Greenwood (19-5)