Throughout the boys soccer season, Manheim Township hit the notes of record familiar to a program tuned to the song of success, winning section and league titles and a pair of district playoff games.
But a unique and sudden final note sent the season’s swan song into the cacophony of coronavirus disruptions Tuesday.
The Blue Streaks (13-2) withdrew from the District Three Class 4A tournament, forfeiting Tuesday’s championship game against Cumberland Valley, after Manheim Township High School announced plans to continue its remote-learning schedule amid increased positive and pending COVID-19 cases.
“We talked about it all the way from the beginning,” coach Kevin Baker said of the potential for a COVID-19 shutdown. “We were just thankful to have a season. We were thankful that we got to have a full season and thankful that we got to have playoffs. With everything so uncertain this year, we’ve just been thankful for every chance we’ve had. You’re aware of it, but when the reality sets in, it doesn’t make it any easier.”
The Blue Streaks joined Warwick football on the list of Lancaster-Lebanon League programs to see their seasons end at the doorstep of a district championship. The Warriors withdrew Monday from a Class 5A football championship game scheduled for Friday against Governor Mifflin, also because of COVID-19 issues.
“Obviously we’re disappointed with not having the chance to have closure one way or the other,” Baker said, “but I think the hardest part is the idea of not being together anymore. I talked to the boys today. Wins and losses are nice and all, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about the guys you’re with every day at the practices and games.”
The virus’ influence altered the L-L League soccer season from first kick through final whistle. Lancaster Country Day opted out of the season in favor of an intra-squad schedule. McCaskey delayed the start to its campaign due to positive cases, and the regular season featured a litany of schedule changes because of temporary school shutdowns.
Through all of it, the Blue Streaks, led by their 14 seniors, retained their Section One title, repeated as league champions and advanced to the district final for the first time since 2008.
“I’m incredibly proud of these guys,” Baker said, “not just as players, but they’re really good young men. They really are. They’re everything you want a high school student, and a student-athlete, to be.”