Athens rallies past Jersey Shore into D4 final.

By: Brett R. Crossley | Towanda Daily Review | October 31, 2017

 

WILLIAMSPORT — Athens had to feel its confidence shake when the fourth-seeded Jersey Shore Bulldogs scored a goal just past the 3-minute mark of its District 4 Class AAA game at the Ball Mills Soccer Complex.

The Wildcats had the better of play through the first 10 minutes, forcing two shots and controlling the tempo and possession of the game. The Bulldogs benefited from a run by Hunter Bierly, who got behind Jersey Shore's defense to force a shot and score an early goal.

Bierly went on to score another goal, but Athens remained focused receiving two goals from David Scheftic en route to a 3-2 win over Jersey Shore in overtime.

"We thought we were going to break through, we just had to wear them down a little," Scheftic said. "It was just a matter of time before we could finish it."

The Wildcats nearly tied the game at in the 37th minute of the second half when Lane put a hard shot to the middle of the goal. Calvin Lesser misread the shot, but recovered to make a one-handed stop. He quickly jumped on the ball to cover it and prevent anymore scoring chances. Scheftic had a similar attempt moments later, but once against Lesser was there for the stop.

After the flurry to open the second half, Scheftic found himself in another good scoring position after Luke Arnold sent a ball into the box off a direct kick. Scheftic read the ball perfectly and tapped the ball in midair to redirect it to the center of the goal. The tally locked the game in a two-all tie with 27 minutes left to play in regulation.

"We're feeling really confident," Scheftic said.

Athens finished regulation with 22 shots to Jersey Shore's five, but found itself headed to extra time after a strong performance by the Bulldogs' keeper.

Brad Cardona had the initial look of the extra time as he pushed a ball across the goal to beat the keeper. The shot had a little too much speed on it as the ball rolled wide of the target. Scheftic finally got Athens through to the next round with a goal on Athens' fifth shot of overtime.

"The biggest thing for us is we weren't playing our regular defensive game," Athens coach Jake Lezak said. "The boys responded in the second half. We started playing the ball out of the air and getting down to feet. They threw a lot of numbers on us in the back line and we aren't used to it."

Athens immediately found itself chasing at the end of the first half as Jersey Shore cashed in on another rush to go up 2-1 with less than two minutes left to play. Beirly, who scored the Bulldogs' first goal, hit a direct kick from 10 yards outside the 18 to beat the Athens keeper for his second goal. The shot was waist high and curved to the corner of the goal, beating the keeper as he dove for the ball.

Athens posted 11 shots on goal, getting the better of play through the opening 40 minutes, but finding itself trailing at the half. The Wildcats did a good job of connecting passes through the midfield and sending through up past the defense.

"We played a lot better in the second half defensively," Lezak said. "It was frustrating offensively, but the resilience of our guys was huge. They stuck together and continued to look for opportunities."

Athens finally broke through for its initial goal when Gavin Stein tapped in a rebound off the crossbar. Ethan Lane, who recorded three shots on goal, sent a hard shot to the post, beating Jersey Shore's keeper, but hitting the bar. The shot immediately deflected to Lane, who finished with a quick tap-in to the center of the net.