Winning state game elevates Wellsboro

Winning a district championship, the first in program history, was something that helped elevate Wellsboro boys soccer to a new level. It solidified the fact that the Green Hornets can compete with anyone within the district.

Wellsboro’s been successful in boys soccer for years — the Green Hornets have competed well within the district tournament every year since 2013 — but winning a district championship? It eluded them until last week.

“It’s amazing, and honestly it takes the program to a whole new level. The district championship did that but this, for all the underclassmen, for all the middle schoolers for our youth teams in Wellsboro, winning a state game changes everything,” Wellsboro coach John Shaffer said after Tuesday’s win over Greenwood. “It changes everything and it sets the bar that much higher and whether you’re a third grader or an eighth grader, we now have an expectation to win a state game. It just changes everything.”

And don’t think winning one state game is something that is going to satisfy this Wellsboro team. The players want to keep their season going and that begins on Saturday when Wellsboro will play District 12 champion Masterman (9-5) at Hazleton High School at 4.

Rewind to 2013, and Wellsboro lost in the state tournament to Biglerville, 7-1. This year, the Green Hornets entered districts convinced they could compete, and it showed in a 1-0 win over a tough Greenwood team at Balls Mills.

Noah Fitch scored the Green Hornets’ lone goal and while Greenwood did hold a 17-9 shot advantage, both teams had six shots on goal.

“The stress of a state game when you know you have a chance to win. Four years ago, we went to a state game and we knew we were up against it so we were just happy to be there, but tonight we knew we had a shot and I’m just so happy for the boys,” Shaffer said. “They worked so hard against a really, really tough Greenwood team.”

The Green Hornets have plenty of scorers in Tanner Runyan (28 goals, 14 assists), Fitch (20, 7), Brett Rudy (19, 8) and Gabe Leach (11, 24) and average 30 shots per game.

From a defensive standpoint Wellsboro lives up to their name of Green Hornets, swarming to defending players who have the ball like a bunch of bees. Wellsboro averages less than five shots per game against and and have only allowed 10 goals all season as Nate Redell leads the area with 13 shutouts this year.

Throughout districts, the Green Hornets outscored three opponents, 9-2, and only allowed one goal each to Southern Columbia and Benton before blanking defending two-time district champion Millville in the championship, 1-0.

Masterman edged out Moravian Academy on Tuesday in the first round of the PIAA Class A tournament, 3-2.