Lewisburg boys off to unreal start
Quite simply put, Lewisburg is off to a remarkable start. Or you could say an excellent start. Maybe great is a better word? Regardless, you get the idea.
The Green Dragons are 6-0, average nearly seven goals per game, and have scored nearly 40 goals so far. Lewisburg’s a great team and no one wants to play them.
There’s a lot of reasons for that success, but if you ask standout starter Ben Liscum, it’s thanks to two juniors stepping up big time.
“Carter Hoover and Philip (Permyashkin) were sophomores and didn’t necessarily have the experience last year, but this year absolutely stepped up in a huge way for us,” Liscum said. “Jack (Dieffenderfer) coming back from injury (was big). He’s very explosive.”
Add all of that up, and you have the recipe for a potent team which can strike just about as fast as a raindrop falls.
“To be honest I’m not (surprised at our goal-scoring). I have a very good senior class and brought back two leading goal-scorers from last year and Jack Dieffenderfer, who was hurt all last year, bringing him in the mix and getting used to playing with all of those guys,” Lewisburg coach Ben Kettlewell said. “I still think we have a tough part of our schedule to come, so I think we’ll slow down a little bit. I think once teams get a little bit of a read on us, we’ll have to play a little selfish at times too.”
Teams may eventually get a read on Lewisburg and figure them out, but it’s easier said than done. Focus on Liscum and you leave the door open for Anthony Bhangdia to strike. Try to double both of them, Dieffenderfer or Hoover can make a move.
Area defenses have to pick their poison as they figure out how to stop this scoring machine. Liscum summed it up best after the Green Dragons defeated Williamsport, 1-0, last Saturday afternoon at the Balls Mills Soccer Complex after Lewisburg recorded 20 shots on goal.
“If I was going up against us, I wouldn’t necessarily know what to do just because there’s so many ways we can attack the opposition and it’s just a strength we have,” he said.
Lewisburg is outscoring its opponents, 39-2. Liscum leads the team with 10 goals. Bhangdia and Dieffenderfer both have nine. Lewisburg possesses the ball extremely well and makes crisp, perfect passes. It’s a testament to how well the program is operating. And that sustained possession means opponents get very few shots.
Through these six games, the Green Dragons have allowed just nine shots on goal, or 1 1/2 per game.
“Something we focused on this year is sucking that defense out and it opens up space behind. When you can play those balls behind, we can just keep the ball and possess and tire out the defense,” Liscum said. “It’s hard to run with us for 40, 50 minutes when we let the ball do the work. When you let the ball do the work, the defense has got to work really, really hard to get it back and when they get it back, they don’t necessarily have the energy to move forward.”
Any team which wants to make a run in the District 4 playoffs needs to be tested by a couple good teams during the season. Coaches know its the best way to see how they stack up.
For many teams, they got a lot of those of tests early in the season. Williamsport’s schedule consisted of a string of games against Danville, Lewisburg, Selinsgrove and Midd-West last week through this week.
Loyalsock had plenty of tough opponents as well, having to face a good Williamsport team two weekends ago and then a very strong Midd-West team. But coach Adam Scheibeler wouldn’t want it any other way.
“It’s great to have these tough tests early on to set the tone for the level of play required to be competitive in districts. Williamsport is a very tough opponent and local rival, which makes the match really exciting. Midd-West has one of the richest histories in District 4 and is always a very tough opponent. Our schedule doesn’t get easier,” Scheibeler said.
Oh yeah, there’s also two upcoming matches the Lancers have with Selinsgrove and a game looming with perennial power Lewisburg.
“If we want to give ourselves any chance of being competitive in districts, we need the experience of playing against those powerhouse teams during the regular season,” Scheibeler said. “Without those experiences, it’s difficult to have the confidence and temperament to manage the high-pressure enviornment of playoffs. And if we want to have any ambitions of wining a district title, we would have to get past teams of that caliber anyway. I don’t see any point of cruising into playoffs without seeing the top District 4 teams.”
No doubt Loyalsock will see those teams again down the road in districts if the Lancers qualify, and having played them once gives them a good idea of what to expect again.
Boys soccer Top 5
1. LEWISBURG (6-0)
Lewisburg faced its toughest test yet in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Williamsport. Entering that contest, Lewisburg was averaging seven goals per game, but Williamsport did an outstanding job limiting Lewisburg, and the Green Dragons walked away with just one goal. Lewisburg hosts Midd-West on Monday in what could easily be a District 4 championship preview.
2. WARRIOR RUN (6-0)
The Defenders are showing area fans they have a very solid offense. Through six games, Warrior Run has outscored its opponents, 28-2, and has allowed a goal in a game only twice. The Defenders, much like Lewisburg, have a lot of scoring threats spread all over the field and make it hard for defenses to limit them. Danville and Milton are the only teams to score on Warrior Run.
3. LOYALSOCK (5-2-1)
The Lancers have had a bit of a bumpy run lately, going 1-2-1 after opening the season with four consecutive wins. But the Lancers lost a one-goal game to perennial power Midd-West, drew to a scoreless tie with Danville, and lost to a good Milton team, 2-1. Loyalsock rebounded Saturday with a 5-1 win against Shamokin to get back in the win column. The Lancers have a lot of talent up top and in the midfield, but their defense has played well this year so far too.
4. WELLSBORO (3-0)
The Green Hornets had a statement win last week defeating rival Athens, 2-1, for their third win of the year. Dustin Benedict scored the game-winner for the Green Hornets. Wellsboro knew Athens would be a tough game and limited the Wildcats to six shots on goal as Ethan Ryan made five saves. Athens has won the NTL six years in a row and Wellsboro finished as runner-up for the last five years. So an early-season win over the Wildcats is huge for the Green Hornets.
T5. WILLIAMSPORT (3-2)
Give Williamsport a ton of credit for hanging with Lewisburg on Saturday. The Green Dragons averaged more than seven goals per game entering that game and Williamsport’s defense held Lewisburg to just one goal and played outstanding. The upcoming schedule for Williamsport doesn’t get any easier as the Millionaires have Midd-West on Thursday and Lewisburg again next week. Ben Liscum after Saturday’s game called Jimmy Pombor one of the district’s best players, a nice compliment from one standout to another.
T5. MILTON (6-1)
The Black Panthers are having one of their best seasons in recent memory. Milton made a statement Saturday by defeating a very good Loyalsock team, 2-1. The Black Panthers limited Loyalsock’s offense to just four shots on goal. Milton blanked Hughesville, 9-0, Tuesday as three players recorded two goals.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Elliott Wannop, Williamsport
To say Wannop was a stud in goal Saturday may be an understatement. The Millionaires faced an undefeated Lewisburg team and Wannop did everything he could to keep Lewisburg from scoring. The Green Dragons won, 1-0, but Wannop came up with 17 saves and kept it close.
Girls soccer Top 5
1. SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT (6-1)
The Mounties dropped their season opener to Benton, 9-3, and since have rattled off six consecutive wins and have given up multiple goals in that span just once. South Williamsport did a fantastic job Monday afternoon limiting Sullivan County’s potent offense and allowing just one goal.
2. WILLIAMSPORT (3-2-1)
Williamsport made a statement last week defeating a very good, young and previously-undefeated Montoursville team, 1-0, before stumbling against Selinsgrove, 3-0. The Seals are tough, though, and are 6-2. Williamsport’s still figuring a few things out in the lineup, but expect the Millionaires to take that loss and improve upon it.
3. MONTOURSVILLE (4-1)
The Warriors lost to a solid Williamsport team, 1-0, last Wednesday to drop in the rankings, and that was the last game Montoursville has played prior to Wednesday’s contest against Lewisburg. But that loss to Williamsport should give the Warriors some things to build off with a few tough games ahead, including two against Southern Columbia and a road trip to Selinsgrove.
4. SULLIVAN COUNTY (5-2)
The Griffins are playing well to start the season and had a four-game winning streak snapped Monday against South Williamsport, 4-1. The Griffins recorded back-to-back shutouts before Monday’s loss. Bethany Beinlich and Chloe Burke are both extremely dangerous players and are causing defensive matchup problems for just about every team they face.
5. LEWISBURG (4-3)
The Green Dragons stumbled a bit to start the year and were 1-3 at one point after three consecutive losses against Bloomsburg, Shikellamy and Selinsgrove. But since then Lewisburg strung together a run of wins over Mifflinburg (4-2), Jersey Shore (2-1) and Shamokin (3-0). Taryn Beers came up big against the Indians with a two-goal performance, and Chelsea Stanton assisted on both. Those wins should provide some confidence as Lewisburg faces Selinsgrove, Midd-West, Williamsport and Southern coming up.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Chloe Burke, Sullivan County
Burke is the type of player that can do a little of everything for the Griffins, and this past week showed why. Burke has great vision on the field and can play excellent balls to her teammates, as she did against South Williamsport assisting on a Bethany Beinlich goal. Burke also had a goal and assist in a 4-0 win over Muncy.
Jon Gerardi covers high school soccer for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached at 570-326-1551 (ext. 3127) or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonGerardi.