Through 80 regulation minutes and one full overtime period Monday afternoon, Elizabethtown fought through bouts of hope, bouts of frustration, close calls and tight calls as it traded offensive chances — but zero goals — with a McCaskey program on the rise in a Lancaster-Lebanon League boys soccer Section Two opener for both teams.
But in the 92nd minute, the Bears broke through.
David Fry made a run down the right side before centering it to Daniel Tema, who shrugged off a defender and banged in the game-winning goal off the right post at 91:36. His teammates swarmed him in jubilation, as the Bears celebrated their 1-0 victory.
"I knew I was going to get the ball in the middle," Tema said, "no matter what, so I just ran for it."
GOLDEB GOAL, Elizabethtown. Daniel Tema from David Fry at 91:36. Bears win their L-L Section Two opener over McCaskey, 1-0. pic.twitter.com/y1g1tMU9DO— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) September 9, 2019
The Bears (1-0 Section Two, 3-2 overall) entered the season looking to fill the void left by graduated players that contributed to the program's back-to-back league titles in 2016 and 2017 and its run of section crowns from 2014-2017.
"We're very much, for the first time in many years, really reconstructing," said James Sostack, Elizabethtown's coach. "I think teams that have played us have recognized that. It's not the E-town of old, but the boys are trying to build on that past legacy."
A linchpin of Elizabethtown's legacy has been its defense, and this year's edition showcased its shut-down potential against McCaskey Monday, when Adam Evans and Hayden Musser anchored the defensive effort against a potent Red Tornado attack that had scored 16 goals over its first three games.
"They've got quality players and good coaching," Sostack said of the previously unbeaten Red Tornado (0-1-0, 3-1-0). "I thought (coming into the season) that McCaskey was going to cause some problems in the section this year."
McCaskey challenged the Bears throughout Monday's contest with pressure from forwards Peter Chol and Jackson Yobo. In the 30th minute, a Chol header cleared the crossbar by inches. At moments in the second half, the Red Tornado swarmed in the E-town end, punching a ball into the box that bounced around in the 77th minute before Bears goalkeeper J.J. Oberholtzer (seven saves) cleared it away.
McCaskey's Cole Gunrow teed up Peter Chol for a header attempt in the 36th minute. Just clears the E-town goal to keep it scoreless. Bears respond with their best chance if the afternoon at the other end and a shot by Carlton Wise. pic.twitter.com/pg1S05lv86— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) September 9, 2019
At the other end, Elizabethtown prodded the McCaskey defense and fired shots toward goalkeeper Grady Bachman (four saves). Four times during regulation, but the shots caught the post, and the game remained scoreless. In one sequence, two Elizabethtown chances bounced off the McCaskey crossbar.
"I think that's what keeps (the players) up," Sostack said of the shots off the post. "In previous games, we weren't even knocking on the door, so knocking on the door keeps us motivated and gives the guys a belief that they're capable of scoring and taking the game."
Double doink? Or two single doinks? Either way, E-town and McCaskey are scoreless in the 56th minute. pic.twitter.com/6Pa5rb8Slz— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) September 9, 2019
When the Bears finally broke through the proverbial door, the McCaskey players walked off the field with their early season unbeaten streak snapped as well as lessons learned and experiences to build on as their Section Two schedule unfolds.
"I want to see how our guys respond," said Adam Wood, McCaskey's coach. "It's a test. It's easy when you're winning two, three games in a row. How do we respond? That's my challenge to them."