Through 80 minutes of regulation and for most of the 30 minutes of overtime Warwick had pinned Cocalico back with an edge in possession and an aggressive attack during the back end of a Lancaster-Lebanon League boys soccer quarterfinal doubleheader at Manheim Central. But when time expired, the score was tied, 1-1.
The Warriors' dogged pursuit for a decisive blow ended on the foot of senior forward Luke Wealand, who punched in the penalty kick that clinched a 1-1 (4-2) victory for the Warriors, knocking out the defending league champion and setting up a semifinal matchup with McCaskey slated for Tuesday.
McCaskey defeated Lancaster Catholic, 3-0, in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader at Manheim Central.
"I was just relieved," Wealand said of his clinching shot, which rolled low to the right of Cocalico's Caleb Sturtevant, who defended theh Eagles' goal during the penalties. "I ran over to my goalkeeper because he did a very good job during the game, and he saved us a lot."
Warwick's Luke Wealand seals it for the Warriors. They defeat Cocalico, 1-1 (4-2 PKs) in the L-L League quarterfinals to set up a semifinal meeting with McCaskey slated for Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/VIuSlp8ofv— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) October 12, 2019
That goalkeeper, Boston Libhart made eight saves for the Section One runner-up Warriors (11-3-1), including a diving denial of a chance stemming from a Cocalico corner kick in the second overtime period.
The Section Three champion Eagles (10-6-2) did solve Libhart for the game's first goal in the 24th minute. Aaron Weitzel drew in Warwick defenders before sending the ball into the Warriors' zone, where Lucas Martin reached it before anyone else and slipped it into the net.
"Aaron's a really dynamic guy," said Cocalico coach Derek Sipe. "We stress to the guys around him that when he has the ball, if you do a little bit of a movement and find some space, he's going to do a pretty good job of finding you. I think Lucas did a good of running hard and expecting the ball, and Aaron played a great ball through. Just perfect timing."
Warwick netted the equalizer when Drew Schwartz tapped in a pass from Jake Smith in the 65th minute. The Warriors continued to pepper the Cocalico goal and starting goalkeeper Zach Kruetzer (11 saves), but the teams settled for a stalemate through the rest of regulation and two overtime periods.
"We just kept telling our guys to stay calm," said Warwick coach Matt Wagner, "to keep the course, and things would come. We had our chances. We just didn't finish in regulation. We were basically able to control the play. From 20 minutes on, we were dominant, and sometimes you just can't finish."
Cocalico's Zach Kruetzer stops Warwick on the run with 5:30 left OT2 pic.twitter.com/MuWEr3v4DF— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) October 12, 2019
Earlier Saturday, the Section Two champion Red Tornado (17-2-0) stormed into the semifinals with goals from Sam Hershey, Jackson Yobo and Nay Say Lwae, and a three-save shutout by goalkeeper Grady Bachman. It was the program's first appearance in the league tournament since 1994 and its first postseason victory since the 1996 district playoffs.
"We've been very excited to be the first team to do this in a while," Hershey said, "but everyone's just playing like it's another game, going into it. We're just playing like we want it, and we want to go as far as we can."
Hershey opened the scoring in the 26th minute, punching in a rebound from his header off a McCaskey corner kick. The Red Tornado generated another goal off a corner in the 65th minute, when Yobo tagged a ball on a bounce in the Lancaster Catholic box.
GOAL, McCaskey. Sam Hershey heads a corner kick from Albert Barrientos. Lancaster Catholic's Nathan Hummer denies the initial chance, but Hershey pots the rebound to put the Red Tornado up 1-0 at 25:03. pic.twitter.com/ebxKR5HPz7— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) October 12, 2019
"The difference was their hunger inside the box," said Lancaster Catholic coach Bryan Fossi of McCaskey's players. "They attack the ball very well, and they're hungry, and that's something that I would love for my team to have. The other thing, too, is you can tell that they played like they play together. That's something we didn't do well today. We've done those things well at times, but they work for each other. They have key players and guys that are good role players."
Nathan Hummer's five-save performance kept the Section Four runner-up Crusaders (12-5-2) within striking distance, but McCaskey's early energy never relented.
"There's always that heightened anxiety," McCaskey coach Adam Wood said of postseason play, "but that's good if you can channel that energy and play well. I think the guys did a good job of focusing, not getting too emotional, settling in and playing our game."
GOAL, McCaskey. Jackson Yobo boots a ball out of thr air and into the net. Red Tornado's lead over Lancaster Catholic grows to 2-0 at 64:11. pic.twitter.com/9DVL7Oj4w6— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) October 12, 2019
McCaskey and Warwick are set to clash in a league semifinal scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Conestoga Valley, following the semifinal between Manheim Township and Lampeter-Strasburg, Saturday's other quarterfinal winners, scheduled for 5:30.
At Lancaster Catholic
Manheim Township 3, Lancaster Mennonite 1: Moses Beers, Shawn Larozza and Colton Pierson netted goals for the Section One champion Blue Streaks (12-3-1), who scored in the 12th minute and never looked back. Ethan Groff scored the lone goal for the Section Three co-champion Blazers (10-5-1) in the 73rd minute.
Lampeter-Strasburg 1, Pequea Valley 0 (OT): Maximo Franco's golden goal in the 92nd minute gave the Section Two runner-up Pioneers (13-4-1) their fourth straight win. Colin Reinacher made two saves for the shutout while Jazae Itegi made five saves for the Section Four champion Braves (15-4-0).