With 47 seconds left and his team trailing visiting Wilson, 3-0, Conestoga Valley's Andrew Wahba bulled his way through a trio of Bulldog defenders, picked up speed to gain space and flicked a shot into the net to break up the shutout. It was the final note in a sun-splashed Saturday song that saw Wilson carry the tune, convincingly, in a nonleague boys soccer game.
"We're still learning," said Conestoga Valley coach Dave Hartlaub, "and growing in the game. I saw a lot of good moments today, but I also saw some things that we'll learn through experience and do better."
Fielding a roster filled with juniors and seniors, the Buckskins (2-2-0) jumped on the attack early, putting pressure on the Wilson end in the first five minutes. In the 18th minute, Sawyer Shertzer's free kick rattled around in the Bulldogs box. Four minutes later, David Irwin poked tbe ball away from a defender and fired a shot on goal. Logan Weaver also earned a pair of chances on the run. Wilson goalkeeper Nathan Holler stopped the first six shots he faced before Eli Debooth took over late in the second half.
Some early pressure from Conestoga Valley. Wilson GK Nathan Holler swats this chance away in the second minute to keep it scoreless. pic.twitter.com/WIYKR7yxY8— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) September 7, 2019
"Soccer's an emotional game," Hartlaub said. "We could have put one or two away in the first half, and we're having a different conversation. With that said, credit to Wilson. They did bury their chances, and it changed the complexion of the game."
While Adam Yoder anchored the Buckskins backfield — and goalkeeper Luke Snader turned away nine Wilson shots in the first half — the Bulldogs (3-0-1) capitalized on an opportunity in the 25th minute when Devven Frey centered a pass to Cooper Jackson, who deflected it in for a 1-0 lead.
Wilson eliminated Conestoga Valley from the District Three playoffs in each of the last three seasons, including last year when the Bulldogs claimed the district's Class 4A crown en route to a state championship game win. Wilson vacated the PIAA title due to an age-rule violation, but the Bulldogs reloaded in the offseason. Saturday, they showed off some of their championship pedigree, pinning the Buckskins in their own end for most of the second period.
"We just got back to playing our game," said Moss Grande, Wilson's coach, "finding feet and still progressing through the first couple games of the year. We're still trying to figure out who we are offensively."
GOAL, Wilson. Victor Vittero follows up on his own shot and buries the rebound to put the Bulldogs up, 2-0, at Conestoga Valley (52:04). pic.twitter.com/3yDXO7A0Hy— Tim Gross (@TimGrossLNP) September 7, 2019
Victor Vottero added to the Wilson lead in the 53rd minute, punching in his own rebound after Snader denied his initial shot. Less than 10 minutes later, Anthony Federico gained a step on a Conestoga Valley defender and netted a shot on the near side.
"They're a solid program," Hartlaub said of the Bulldogs. "They're a storied program. We've had a lot of battles with them. Unfortunately, they've had the edge recently, and today was another example."
After posting a .500 record through the first week of their nonleague schedule, the Buckskins are set to open Lancaster-Lebanon League Section One play when they visit Manheim Township in a game scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m.