Green Dragons already talking about making another run
HAMBURG – A state tournament appearance can be a cruel beast sometimes. Lewisburg faced that beast for the second time in three years and, again, could not cash in on the biggest prize.
Lewisburg had to settle for a top-four finish in the state after its 2-1 loss in the PIAA Class AA semifinal to New Hope-Solebury on a frigid Tuesday night at Hamburg High School.
The senior class finished its career with some PIAA hardware, which includes a state gold in its first varsity season. Wanting to cash in on another state medal before the careers of Cole Temple, Anton Permyashkin, Josh Nicholls, William Lowthert, Logan Moore and Sawyer Fisher graduated, the Green Dragons’ season came to an unanticipated end last night.
Lowthert spoke Saturday of the team’s drive to win following a win over Lansdale Catholic in the state quarterfinals. Tuesday night the senior stood by the bench following the game motionless, unable to speak despite a million thoughts racing through his head at the unexpected ending for a team which hadn’t lost a game this season before last night.
He watched his teammates bundle up as much as they could to protect themselves from the biting November air, savoring every last moment he could in his own uniform. Meanwhile, captain Ben Liscum walked off on his own after the handshakes and crumbled to the ground repeating, ‘Not again, not again.’ The last time a Lewisburg team had reached this point of the state tournament, it fell to Lancaster Mennonite, 2-0. This year’s seniors were sophomores on that team.
“(Losing to New Hope) is going to hurt because it’s now the second state semifinal game we have lost and we have one more season with a very talented team coming back. We are losing some great players this year, but we are coming into next season with a vengeance,” Liscum said.
Despite losing six seniors, Lewisburg returns a team full of “ruthless” juniors which include career 50-goal scorer, Anthony Bhangdia. Bhangdia was held out of Tuesday’s game because of an injury.
“States better look out because we are coming for everyone. We are emphasizing ruthlessness,” Liscum said as he boarded the bus. “I believe we can go 25-0 next season and be the best in the state. I hope we come back down to Hamburg in the semifinals and get to play New Hope.”
The Green Dragons could not have as much success as it did without the entire 31-man roster putting their hearts into the game. Pair the determined seniors who have lost in the state semifinals twice with proven sophomore starters Carter Hoover, Anthony Burns, Simon Stumbris and Philip Permyashkin, and Lewisburg has enough firepower to return next year with a vengeance.
“(The seniors) were a great group of guys and really good players. I remember going to a lot of the games in eighth grade and remembering wanting to be there on that field with them. I always wanted to get better and get on the field (as a starter),” Hoover said.
Hoover and Burns started all season and used every second on the field to build confidence heading into their final years.
“I kind of made my own voice at the start of playoffs, that’s when I started to step up and keep up the momentum for myself and for the rest of the players on the team.” Hoover said. “We have to leave this game behind us and move ahead to next season, take this feeling and use it for next year. We will take a break, but will get right back to work with indoor, club and spring ball to get better and keep on moving forward for next season.”
Burns felt the Green Dragons got away from the one-game-at-a-time mentality which helped get the team to the state semifinals.
“We all thought about Friday (state final), what time are we getting out for a 1:30 p.m. game? Who are we going to play? We were already thinking about the next game and that’s when I got worried,” Burns said. “I had a bad feeling about this game, and just to break our mentality this game, the loss happened.”