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Jon Gerardi on soccer: Sullivan’s Chloe Burke reached milestone while overcoming injuries

PHOTO PROVIDED Sullivan County’s Chloe Burke poses with a sign to celebrate her reaching 75 career goals earlier in October. She’s currently third all-time in Sullivan girls scoring history, behind only Bethany Beinlich (97 goals) and Macy McCarty (111)

It was after her junior high season that Sullivan County’s Chloe Burke was pondering her future playing soccer. She was coming off an ACL tear and was unsure what role soccer would have in her life.

But Burke loved the game of soccer, and while she had some doubts, she didn’t want to walk away from the game she fell in love with as a young kid.

“Although this was one of my biggest setbacks, my dedication and love for the sport got me to where I am today,” Burke said. “So through all that I have conquered, I am more than honored.”

Honored for what you ask? For etching her name along some of the all-time best scorers in Sullivan County history, and doing so battling injuries and setbacks.

Earlier this year, Burke reached a milestone of 75 career goals and climbed her way up to third all-time in program history, behind only former teammate Bethany Beinlich (2017-20, 97 goals) and former standout Macy McCarthy (2014-17, 111). Burke currently has 80.

“I am honored to join the list of high goal scorers in Sullivan’s history, however, it is more of a personal journey for me. Sullivan’s schedule has become more challenging over the last few years and on top of that, I have dealt with injuries,” Burke said. “When I tore my ACL in junior high, I never thought I wanted to play soccer again. I faced more injuries with my knee throughout my varsity career which made me miss a handful of games.”

Burke also came off a meniscus surgery two years ago, but despite that, Burke never stopped playing hard and making a name for herself.

“Chloe is dedicated to the game and it is predominantly her daily commitment that runs hand-in-hand with tallying goals one by one,” Sullivan County first-year coach Seth Stoner said. “For a coach, it’s a joy to watch. We hope our youngsters seek to model themselves after not just Chloe, but her attention to detail.”

Even with an ACL tear and meniscus surgery, Burke still usually draws multiple defenders every game she plays. Teams know she’s a threat who can turn nothing into something, and even so, she’s still finding ways to score.

“To me personally, it is something that I have worked very hard for and am proud of,” Burke said of surpassing the 75-goal milestone. “I have goals that have more meaning than others and getting this milestone my senior year has been a confidence boost.”

DEFENSIVE PRIDE

Montoursville has playmakers up top. Everyone in the area knows that. From Lily Saul and Lydia Earnest to Madison Moll and Jillian Irion.

But the Montoursville backline? They’re playmakers too.

Peyton Bragalone, Natalie Reeder, Natalie Bennett and Emma Wood all anchor that foursome for the Warriors and have shutout all but six opponents this year.

“Defense becomes an identity for them. We have six, seven primary defenders. … The defense starts to develop and pride and the other team’s score is sort of their score,” Montoursville coach Vic Gorini said. “If you have that and a strong unit, one thing leads to another and it gets you a victory.”

That defense helped limit Class AAA state-ranked Dallas to just one goal and four shots on goal, and has helped the Warriors post an area-high 10 shutouts.

“We have a really young defense and they’re really talented, so I can’t wait to see what they’ll do when I graduate. They’re really solid,” Saul said.

Montoursville has played a number of great teams this season and the backline has been battle tested. And that only will mean good things for the Warriors come districts.

“We have some really good backs that are quick and skilled, and they understand how to cover and support each other. That’s the big thing, just anticipating something bad going wrong and then knowing what to do,” Gorini said. “We stress all the time be prepared for bad things to happen defensively, and we’re hopefully already in position to clean up the bad touches and have opportunities because that’s just our mindset.”

THE KEY TO SUCCESS IS…

For Milton, it’s simply playing as a united family of 11 as one. That’s what coach Rod Harris tells his team and it’s working.

Milton is 11-3-1 this year and is playing well all around. Janae Bergey, Mackenzie Lopez, Leah Walter and Alexis Beaver are helping the offense flourish as Bergey and Lopez both have 16 goals.

“Having several girls that can score is always a nice weapon to have. We truly have played unselfishly and are willing to find the open player,” Harris said. “We have six to seven girls who have contributed a great deal to the offensive attack. Lopez definitely takes a lot of pressure off of Bergey and Walter controls our midfield along with Alexis Beaver.

“The two of them are playing very well together.”

Defensively, Milton has allowed just 16 goals against through 15 games, and a lot can be credited to Mo Reiner in goal.

“Mo is a beast. Man, is she good. Her reflexes and ability to catch a ball are like something I’ve never seen before,” Harris said. “She is a very talented keeper and any college program would be very lucky to land her as a keeper. She is a solid field player too, which makes her that much more versatile as a keeper. We are able to use her in many situations.”

Reiner has nearly 100 saves, second most in the area behind only North Penn-Mansfield’s Tierney Patterson (253).

MAKING A STATEMENT

The Milton boys soccer team is having arguably one of the program’s best seasons this year. The Black Panthers entered Tuesday with a 14-1-1 record. Milton has never had a season with just one loss, and the 14 wins are the most in a season since a 16-3-2 campaign in both 2007 and 2005.

Milton helped solidify itself as a team to beat with a 3-1 win against perennial district power Danville on Thursday. Danville is a consistent team when it comes to playoff berths. The last time the Ironmen missed the postseason was 2008-10. Since then, Danville has made three trips to the district quarterfinals, three trips to the district semifinals and won the District 4 title in 2013.

So for Milton, beating the Ironmen was a nice addition to this year’s resume.

“Danville is a quality team with a good record and has historically gotten the better of us, so it was a mental hurdle that we needed to overcome,” Milton coach Eric Yoder said. “We are a very confident team heading into the playoffs and the boys are intent on making a run towards the District 4 Class AA championship.”

Yoder has helped the program improve and build. Milton won its first playoff game in program history in 2019, and this year makes three consecutive district appearances. It’s the longest span for Milton since a run of four in a row from 2005-08. That success comes from a number of things according to Yoder.

“We have a very talented and special group of players this season with quality soccer experience. Most of our players have been playing for and trained by STN North Penn soccer club and club director Rob Eaton. This current team is building off the success and experience of the previous teams,” Yoder said. “The entire team was fully invested during the offseason attending several team camps and working with some great coaches. And a big difference this season has been the support of everyone from our school district — the girls soccer team, the football team, teachers, other coaches and the administration.”

MILESTONE ON TOP

OF MILESTONE

It seems this year there’s been a 50-goal scorer, or an even higher milestone, left and right.

So far this year, we’ve seen Wellsboro’s Jack Poirier, North Penn-Liberty’s Caiden Alexander and Williamsport’s Jimmy Pombor become 50-goal scorers in boys soccer. Nick Trevouledes reached 70 for his career, and South Williamsport’s Hayden Swinehart is at 89 goals and counting for his career.

Add in Williamsport’s Kailee Helmrich, Montoursville’s Lily Saul, Milton’s Janae Bergey and South Williamsport’s Piper Minier, who all reached the 50-goal club too on the girls side.

And of course Burke, who is the third leading goal scorer in Sullivan County history.

North Penn-Mansfield goalie Tierney Patterson had 253 saves entering Tuesday and surpassed 500 for her career in just two seasons.

Needless to say, it’s been an exciting season for area soccer with talented players.

Jon Gerardi covers high school soccer for the Sun-Gazette. He can be reached by email at jgerardi@sungazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JonGerardi.

JON GERARDI’S TOP 5 RANKINGS

GIRLS SOCCER

1. MONTOURSVILLE (14-1-1): The Warriors made a huge statement win Monday night by defeating state-ranked Dallas (Class AAA) in a thriller, 2-1. Montoursville is solid all-around, not just offensively, but defensively and also in goal. The Warriors will be tough to beat when the District 4 Class AA playoffs begin.

2. MILTON (11-3-1): Milton lost this past week to 10-win Bloomsburg, 2-1, in overtime before rebounding by cruising past Line Mountain, 7-2. The Black Panthers’ have a great offensive unit led by Janae Bergey, Mackenzie Lopez, Leah Walter and Alexis Beaver, but their defense gets overshadowed. Through 15 games, Milton’s given up just 16 goals.

3. SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT (14-1): One hundred goals. That’s how many the Mounties have scored in just 15 games. South Williamsport beat Benton in a close contest, 3-1, before beating Millville (1-0), Montgomery (10-0) and Muncy (2-1) in double overtime.

4. HUGHESVILLE (10-6-1): The Spartans clinched the program’s second district playoff berth since 2019 on Saturday and Hughesville is clicking at the right time. After the playoff-clinching win on Saturday, the Spartans defeated Athens, 3-1, thanks to Kayleigh Rooker, Hailey Sherwood and Sophia Clark all scoring.

T5. MUNCY (10-5): Muncy may have lost to South Williamsport on Thursday, 2-1, in double overtime, but that was a huge statement by the Indians to take a talented team like South Williamsport into double overtime. Muncy clinched its first playoff berth since 2017 and the Indians have a chance to make some noise in districts.

T5. WARRIOR RUN (8-7): The Defenders have two games left on the schedule, and both are against tough teams in Lewisburg and South Williamsport. Those will be great tests for the Defenders, though, as districts quickly approach.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Aliyah Neece, Jersey Shore and Emilie Nagel, Muncy

Neece helped the Bulldogs come up with two wins this past week. She scored the game’s only goal as the Bulldogs beat a tough Williamsport team, 1-0. She then had an assist in Jersey Shore’s 2-1 double overtime win over Troy two days later.

Nagel scored Muncy’s goal against South Williamsport to force double overtime. Nagel has been coming up big all season for the Indians — she leads the team with 18 goals — and scoring against the Mounties is far from easy. She also scored a goal in a 7-0 win against North Penn-Mansfield.

BOYS SOCCER

1. LEWISBURG (13-1-1): The Green Dragons are ranked fifth in the state in CLass AA, one above longtime rival Midd-West. Lewisburg’s defense is always solid year after year, and 2021 is no exception as the Green Dragons have allowed just nine goals through 15 games.

2. MILTON (14-1-1): Raise your hand if you predicted the Black Panthers would have just one loss through 16 games? I’m guessing not many readers have their hands up. The Black Panthers have played exceptional all season and are a team to watch out for.

3. SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT (10-2): The Mounties clinched the program’s third straight district berth and blanked Benton, 1-0, on Monday to drop the Tigers a game below .500. Chris Vanaskie has done a great job keeping South Williamsport in games the last two seasons and the results have reflected that.

4. WELLSBORO (9-3-2): Speaking of consecutive playoff berths, make it nine in a row for the Green Hornets. Wellsboro lost to rival Athens in a close game, 2-1, before rebounding with a 2-1 win against North Penn-Liberty to clinch a spot in the playoffs.

5. WARRIOR RUN (9-6): By the time you read this column, the Defenders will have closed out their regular season with a Tuesday night contest against Hughesville. The Defenders are playoff-bound as well.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Nick Trevouledes, Hughesville

Trevouledes had a solid week with the Spartans. First he had an assist in the team’s 2-1 loss to Southern Columbia before exploding offensively for five goals and an assist in an 8-2 win against Towanda.

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