Fleet­wood wins 2A ti­tle in over­time

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Jeff De­wees

Fleet­wood’s re­turn to moun­tain­top was a long time com­ing.

A tra­di­tional smallschool soc­cer power rich in his­tory, the Tigers played for six state ti­tles be­tween 1978 and 2000, win­ning two out­right and shar­ing a third — in their last ap­pear­ance, 18 years ago against Quaker Val­ley, when four over­times couldn’t set­tle the is­sue dur­ing an era with­out penalty shootouts.

Since then, noth­ing. Un­til Satur­day. Once there, though, in the PIAA 2A fi­nal, the Tigers made it all the way back.

When Ai­den Ne­gron one-timed an en­try pass from Hay­dyn Zagorksi and roofed it to up­per right­hand cor­ner mid­way into the first over­time against Deer Lakes, it de­liv­ered the first state ti­tle to Fleet­wood since Her­shey­park Sta­dium sported grass 18 au­tumns ago.

It is Fleet­wood’s first out­right crown since the 1980 Tigers clipped Rad­nor for top hon­ors dur­ing the one-clas­si­fi­ca­tion days.

Ne­gron sent a ball at 89:46 — a potluck of­fer­ing into the box from the pacey Zagorski — off his right foot from about 12 yards out to cleanly beat Deer Lakes goalie Jesse Greyshock high and to the cor­ner of the frame for a 1-0 fi­nal ver­dict and with it, the first gold add to the school’s tro­phy case since Satur­day’s se­niors were in­fants, if they were around at all.

The best part? The Tigers don’t have to share this one.

“Hay­dyn ran around three or four de­fend­ers,” an emo­tional Ne­gron said, “and I just came in from be­hind and poked it in. It was just a re­ac­tion. I tried to put my foot out and win this game. I’m re­ally just speech­less and I don’t know what to say right now.”

Fleet­wood’s jour­ney back, as the sec­ond seed com­ing out of Dis­trict 3, was one of de­ter­mi­na­tion and re­sult­ing dom­i­nance. The Tigers won their three state games by a com­bined 14-3 mar­gin, in­clud­ing a 6-2 thrash­ing of Mid­dWest in the semi­fi­nal. The vaunted wing at­tack, paced by Zagorski on the right side, was in high gear.

But after some early prom­ise in Satur­day’s fi­nal against the Lancers, the wing at­tack cross­ing pres­sure fiz­zled a bit. Fleet­wood could not find that fi­nal con­nec­tion to trou­ble or beat Greyshock. So de­spite Fleet­wood’s su­pe­rior move­ment, the WPIAL’s third seed was able to fend off the chal­lenges.

“They were re­ally stingy in the back and they were ded­i­cated,” vet­eran Fleet­wood head coach Keith Sch­legel said of Deer Lake’s back line. “It was one of those things where we just had to keep on go­ing. The first part of the sec­ond half turned into more of a di­rect kick, di­rect kick for them and we couldn’t get any rhythm go­ing for a good por­tion of it. … We don’t want to be in that. We want more flow.”

Sch­legel also broke through, in a way, with Satur­day’s re­sult.

“I’m Fleet­wood through and through,” he said. “I bleed it and I was part of it as a player and now as the coach, I’m hum­bled.”

Fleet­wood was ham­pered by the in­jury loss of se­nior cen­ter mid star Abra­ham Jal­loh, who tweaked an an­kle in the state semi­fi­nal. Jal­loh tried gamely to give it a go, but had to re­tire to the side­lines for good early in the sec­ond half. With­out Jal­loh and his dis­tri­bu­tion skills in the lineup, those snarling Tigers were at times re­duced to hope­ful wim­per­ers.

“I tried to pull through but it did not work out,” Jal­loh said. “I’m glad that my team­mates pulled through. I’m grate­ful to my team­mates to pull through and to fight and to give it ev­ery­thing they had to­day. I was a lit­tle emo­tional that I couldn’t stay in there and help and fight with my team­mates and for my com­mu­nity, but I’m glad they won this for us. I’m su­per happy.”

How­ever, at the other end, Deer Lakes could not string to­gether any sus­tained at­tack. The Lancers looked most threat­en­ing off set pieces, with spe­cial­ist Nick Caro de­liv­er­ing a heavy and ac­cu­rate ball each time.

After hav­ing lunch handed to them dur­ing the first 40 min­utes but es­cap­ing it with­out con­ced­ing, Deer Lakes looked the more dan­ger­ous side down the stretch, com­pil­ing six cor­ners after the break to Fleet­wood’s two.

But the Tigers were able to keep things rel­a­tively clean in front of goalie Sam Schap­pell to quell the threats and move the con­test to over­time.

JEFF DE­WEES - FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

The Fleet­wood boys soc­cer team poses with the PIAA cham­pi­onship tro­phy after win­ning the 2A ti­tle on Nov. 17.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

The Fleet­wood boys soc­cer team raises the PIAA cham­pi­onship tro­phy after win­ning the Class 2A ti­tle on Nov. 17 at Her­shey­park Sta­dium.

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