LEHMAN TWP. — Strange occurrences always seem to happen on Halloween night.
The happening at Lake-Lehman High School was so eerie that even Tunkhannock coach Mark Stroney wouldn’t have predicted the outcome.
On the other hand, since Tunkhannock’s school colors are orange and black — the same as the dark holiday — maybe it was in the cards for the Tigers to pull out a win.
And so they did, jumping out a three-goal halftime lead and erasing an early deficit to defeat Dallas 4-3 on a rainy and foggy Thursday night to pull off the upset of the Mountaineers and claim the District 2 Class 2A Championship, the program’s first in school history.
“I wasn’t thinking we’d be up 4-1 at halftime especially since Dallas scored first,” Stroney said. “That’s tough mentally because you’re thinking the gate might be opening up early to the goal.”
But the oddness was just beginning.
Sticking with the weird theme, Tunkhannock’s star on the night was Matt Dymond. The junior scored just three goals all season, but he equaled that mark on Thursday, scoring his team’s first three goals as the Tigers erased an early 1-0 deficit to build a 4-1 lead at halftime.
“It’s definitely something special. I’m going to remember it. It’s awesome,” Dymond said. “We’ve just been practicing hard doing the basics, going back and watching videos and putting it in our heads that we could win.”
Stroney picked up his unprecedented 11th district championship with his also unprecedented third different team. Previously, he won six golds with Abington Heights in the 1980s before winning four more as head coach of Lake-Lehman. Unlike previous times though, this Tunkhannock team wasn’t supposed to excel coming off a 10-5-1 season in 2012, let alone contend for a district title.
“This is the most rewarding as far as not really expecting it from the beginning of the season. We knew we had a good team, but it just came together and we got rewarded,” Stroney said.
The only three losses Stroney is credited with in district finals came to Dallas and coach Chris Scharff in his last three seasons with Lake-Lehman. Now, those ghosts have been exorcised. And Stroney may have returned the favor, handing Scharff a loss in what could be his last game coaching.
“Chris will probably be back. I have a feeling he may come back if this is his last year,” Stroney said. “But I have a feeling you’ll see him again coaching. Once it’s in your blood it doesn’t really go away.”
Scharff, who has led the Mountaineers to seven district finals including four golds in 16 seasons while piling up nearly 200 career wins with the boys program, said during the season he was not going to be back, but things have changed a little.
“My daughter had a baby. I’m a grandfather now and my wife might want to stick around the area,” Scharff said. “So it’s now moved to 50-50. I might come back.”
Even though they were down 4-1 at halftime and Tunkhannock was playing defensive-minded in the second half, the Mountaineers kept fighting.
They cut the deficit to 4-2 when Zach Goodwin buried a direct kick at the 24:26 mark from 25-yards out that went between the legs of Tunkhannock keeper Zac Daniels.
Still putting up a battle, Dallas scored again about 20 minutes later with 4:48 left in the game when the ball found the back of the net after being hit around like a ping pong ball by several different players near the goal.
The Mountaineers continued to push after getting within 4-3 and Dallas’ last attempt at tying the game was a nice stab by Daniels with under a minute to go to preserve the victory.
“Unfortunately we were down at halftime and we tried to come back, but three goals is very hard to come back from,” Scharff added. “But at least they tried and they fought hard…When you’re in the finals you can’t be down three goals. Down one goal, maybe two, but that three is difficult.
“We’re happy we made it here. Hoping we won the game obviously and go to states. But we didn’t so we’ll move on to next year.”
The Tigers advance to the first round of the PIAA Championships and will play the District 4 champion on Tuesday night at Lake-Lehman. Danville and Warrior Run will play for the D4 title Saturday night at 7 at Loyalsock. Dallas’ season comes to a close with a 15-2-1 record. A.J. Nardone scored Dallas’ first goal 4:21 into the match, giving Dallas a 1-0 lead.
District 2 Class 2A
Tunkhannock 4, Dallas 3
First half — 1. DAL, A.J. Nardone (Aleksey Gitelson) 35:39; 2. TUN, Matt Dymond (Eric Stamer) 27:45; 3. TUN, Dymond 26:48; 4. TUN, Dymond 15:52; 5. TUN, Colton Brown 12:24. Second half — 1. DAL, Zach Goodwin 24:26; 2. DAL, Team goal 4:48
Shots — TUN 7; DAL 13. Saves — TUN 4 (Zac Daniels); DAL 0 (Blake Williams, Rory Mullin). Corner kicks — TUN 4; DAL 8.