MYERSTOWN — You will come to a place where … you have to deal with pressure.
Elco brought the pressure in the second half. Stifling, smothering pressure. Cocalico handled it. Until they didn’t.
On Elco’s fourth corner kick of a two-minute crucible, late in the game, Cassie Johnson ripped a shot that caromed off a defender. Right to Katelyn Rueppel
“I (had) just put it in the back of the net in a similar situation against Donegal,” Rueppel said. “I was just right place, right time.”
Right time, and not much time left as the senior forward zipped her shot into the back of the net with 2:33 to play and the Raiders (7-0 league, 9-0 overall) all but wrapped up the L-L Section Three title with a 1-0 victory, Tuesday night.
With three games left on the schedule, and only section winners advancing to the Covid-truncated league playoffs, Elco is in the driver’s seat in the section, having taken both meetings with the Eagles (5-2, 7-2).
“We’ll work on goal number two, which is making sure we get to districts,” said Eagles coach Dan Hogan. “Which isn’t going to be easy with two losses.”
The Eagles came into the game as the No. 5 side in the Class 3A power ratings, and hope to not slide out of the top eight, the number of qualifiers this year.
Sitting atop the power ratings in 3A, the Raiders can see post-season soccer in their future.
The first half was a study in thrust and parry, as play took place largely between the top of the respective offensive thirds. The Eagles had a slight advantage in time spent in the offensive thirds, but could create just two shots on goal and eight chances.
Elco had three shots on goal off eleven chances, the most dangerous being Kailey Eckhart’s header — wide right — off a sweet corner service from Cassie Johnson as time ticked under 20 seconds left in the half.
Everything switched in the second half as Elco took the game to the Eagles.
“Coach (Derek Fulk) said we need to stop giving so much space,” Rueppel said. “We were letting them control the game.”
Elco, which collected three corners and three shots on goal in the first half, piled up six corners and four shots in the second half to finish with nine and six.
“We needed to push, needed to be the ones,” said Rueppel.