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Wellsboro defeats Loyalsock 3-1 in boys soccer to advance in the District 4 Class AA playoffs

The Wellsboro boys soccer team has not played any games out of league all year. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Wellsboro Area School District did not allow teams to play non-league games this year.

Despite their undefeated 10-0 record and No. 3 ranking in the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches’ Association poll, there were questions how the Hornets would respond to playing tougher competition.

It didn’t take long to answer.

Senior forward Kaeden Mann scored in the first five minutes of the match, and his two first-half goals propelled Wellsboro to a 3-1 District 4 Class AA quarterfinal win over Loyalsock. The second-seeded Hornets will host Midd-West — 8-0 winners over Milton — in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Mann’s opening goal was created by his trademark hunting of the ball. The second all-time leading goal scorer in program history pounced on an errant back pass by the Lancer defense and slotted it home for a 1-0 lead with 35:55 remaining in the first half.

“That’s been the trademark of the guys this season,” Wellsboro coach Todd Fitch said about Wellsboro scoring early. “They like to attack and that gave us a cushion for the second half.”

The early scoring was far from over. Just four minutes later, Wellsboro earned an indirect free kick just inside the top right corner of the eighteen yard box. Will Poirier fired in a great low delivery that was knocked in by Sam Rudy. Rudy, thrust into a new position at right wing with the transfer of Joe Grab midseason, played one of his finest matches for Wellsboro on Thursday, and the Wellsboro attack has not missed a beat.

Mann would add his second goal at 23:12 remaining in the first half as Poirier again drove in a great ball off of a set piece, this time a corner kick. Owen Richardson flicked it on to Mann’s foot and he did not miss from six yards out, giving Wellsboro a 3-0 lead.

Loyalsock crawled back with a goal with 32:23 left in the match when Matt Barone collected a loose ball from 14 yards out and fired it into the right side of the goal. Wellsboro’s defense tightened, though, and they held on for the 3-1 win.

Wellsboro had 10 shots on goal and Keeper Ethan Ryan made four saves. Loyalsock had 5 shots on goal and Caleb Albaugh had seven saves.

Wellsboro 3, Loyalsock 1

(DISTRICT 4 CLASS AA QUARTERFINALS)

W-Kaeden Mann, 35:55. W-Sam Rudy, 30:30. W-Mann (Will Poirier, Owen Richardson), 23:12. L-Matt Barone, 32:23.

Shots: W 10, L 5. Corners: W 11, L 3. Saves: W 4 (Ethan Ryan), L 7 (Caleb Albaugh)

Next game: Midd-West at Wellsboro, District 4 Class AA semifinals, Wednesday.

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