Clarion-Limestone Boys Soccer Stuns Karns City, Remain Undefeated
The game was another defensive battle, just like last week’s game against Redbank Valley.
The outcome was the same as the Lions squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Gremlins for their third shutout to keep their undefeated record.
With a cool fall evening under a dramatic sunset, the Lions knew this was going to be another big test in a District 9 matchup. Early in the first half, the Gremlins were testing the Lion defense, taking two shots on goalie Isaac Lerch, one over the goal and one right at the hands of Lerch.
In normal fashion, the Lions’ offense was able to make a quick strike. With finesse passing, midfielder Brenden Bettwy advanced the ball to outside midfielder Wyatt Boyden.
Boyden then found inside midfielder Thomas Uckert, who slid past the defense and scored at close range against the Gremlin goalie for the first and last score of the game, for both teams.
The tension all game was the ball being gained for possession, only to have the defenses stop the offenses. Boyden took the ball and opportunistically shot, only to miss over the goal post.
The Gremlins returned a shot forced wide by defender Carter Brown to have it miss the goal wide right. Defender Jason Megnin stopped another advance cold with a scorching clear, keeping Lerch out of trouble. Karns City had another opportunity after a penalty on a Lions defender. Midfielder Ky Clark stopped that opportunity by quickly advancing the ball out of the Lions’ end of the field.
Late in the second half, Midfielder Martin Ormeno passed again to Boyden, who shot wide on the goal. Brown and Megnin both had stops, one of which was a hold-your-breath moment as the soccer ball ricocheted in the goal mouth for several seconds.
Another Lions advance was then stopped as Uckert, Dany Schweitzer, Boyden, and Nathan Frederick made some connecting passes that looked promising, but the attempt by Frederick was stopped by the goalie.
Defender Brady Pierce then made a difficult steal on an advancing winger, and then quickly shot the ball upfield to an awaiting Boyden who took another shot that went over the goal. Lerch then had to make a big save at the end of the half, keeping the Gremlins off the scoreboard.
Lerch had six saves in the first half.
As the second half began, the strength of the Lions’ offense seemed to always shine. With advance after advance, the cunning offense was unable to connect on goal with shots or the Gremlin defense turned them away.
Several crossshots from the left and right were intercepted before the offense was able to take the shot. Blaise Cunningham was able to keep the ball from advancing several times by possessing the ball from the physical Gremlins’ midfielders. Lerch was making saves on shots, but the biggest one came in the middle of the second half with a diving hand save to keep the Gremlins honest.
Then came a corner kick opportunity for Karns City with a striker header that missed up and over the goal and Lerch’s hand.
Brown then got into the action by making a midfield stop, advanced the ball upfield looking for a give and go with Dany Schweitzer, only to have the defender needing to go back to his position empty-handed by a Gremlins stop of the play. Uckert then had some dazzling footwork penetrate the defense again, passing to Boyden, who shot on goal and was stopped by the goalie.
Lerch had two stops that bounced out of his hands, only to quickly dive on those second chances of stopping the Gremlins. Bettwy was then fouled and Boyden took the kick, which was blocked.
Uckert was fouled, and the Gremlin was ejected with a yellow card with only two minutes remaining. Lerch then made two more stops in the second to last minute as pressure was being put on the Lions with a desperate Gremlin offense.
As time was about to expire, Lerch found himself sliding on his knees to make the final save as the buzzer indicated the end of the game. Lerch finished with 11 saves in the second half against a very good Gremlin offense.
“I thought it was an amazing performance by us tonight,” Clarion-Limestone co-captain Uckert said after the win. “Karns City is a great team, and it’s always fun playing them. I’m very proud of our effort and thought we were pretty cool, calm, and collected for most of the game. Great team win for sure.”
The Lions continue their defense of their undefeated status against Brookville Raiders at home at the Clarion Limestone field at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 19.
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