SCRANTON — The Meyers boys soccer team figured they would be out of their element on Thursday.
In fact, they were expecting it and even made tatical changes leading up to the District 2 Class 2A final.
The Mohawks were facing a talented Scranton Prep squad. One that hadn’t given up a goal in its prior three postseason games and had surrendered just 10 all season. In fact, Scranton Prep’s starting goalie, Garry Wrobleski, had allowed just five goals throughout his senior campaign.
While the game was scoreless at the break, Scranton Prep overwhelmed the Mohawks to start the second half, scoring three goals in a little over 10 minutes. That burst was all the Cavaliers would need en route to a 3-1 victory over the Mohawks, securing back-to-back District 2 Class 2A titles.
“We pretty much thought they may be able to do that for us,” Meyers head coach Jack Nolan said of Scranton Prep’s ability to bottle up the Mohawks. “We practiced changing the formation a little bit to give us a little extra help defensively because we knew they were very potent offensively.
“We had some opportunities. We actually missed two open shots but that’s the way it runs. I’m proud of the kids. They did well.”
Meyers sports a talented roster that includes three players in the midst of 40-point seasons — Tanner Nillon, Johnny Torres and Dodly Magliore. So a victory wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for the Cavaliers.
With the game scoreless at the half, the Mohawks made Scranton Prep work for every opportunity. However, the difference ended up being the Cavaliers’ ability to take advantage of a couple of Meyers mistakes.
In a span of two minutes, the Cavaliers scored a pair of goals, one coming off of a penalty kick and another on a direct kick.
Cullen Myers capitalized on a penalty kick after being tripped inside the box to give Scranton Prep a 1-0 lead with 34:11 remaining in the half. Corbin White made it a two-goal game when he converted on a direct kick just outside of the box after a Meyers penalty.
In a matter of just minutes the Mohawks were facing a two-goal hole, one they wouldn’t recover from.
“I think we frustrated them in the first half. They were at 0-0 at halftime,” Nolan said. “The penalty kick hurt us. It sort of deflated us a little bit and you could see our heads went down a little bit. So that’s unforunate. But I’m proud of the way the last 15-20 minutes we put some added pressure on that they haven’t seen in a while.”
The Cavaliers were well aware of Meyers’ offensive talent, so coach Sean Curry’s strategy was simple. Scranton Prep just kept the ball away from Meyers’ playmakers.
And it worked.
The Mohawks didn’t get a goal until Magliore converted on a penalty kick with 2:55 remaining in regulation. At that point the Mohawks were in desperation mode.
“Our possession in the first half wasn’t very good. It was good enough. Second half it got better, especially once we got up on them,” Curry said. “They had to go more offensive than defensive, but our four guys in the back are very confident on the ball. They’re very technical and in one-on-one situations, we’ll bet on them every time.”
If there’s anything the Mohawks can take out of the two-goal loss, it’s that they’ve gained some vital big-game experience ahead of states, which will be their first trip in school history.
Meyers’ season did not end on Thursday. The Mohawks will play District 1/12 Class 2A champion on the road on Tuesday.
The Mohawks built some momentum in the final 15 minutes, including Magliore’s goal. Nolan hopes his team carries that momentum through the weekend and into states.
“We’ll talk to them before we get on the bus about that. We talked to them about that before we got here, ‘Hey, no matter what happens today, we have another game to play and that’s never happened in Meyers’ history,’” Nolan said. “We were very proud of that, that we got to this point, and I’m very proud of the way we handled ourselves today.”
“I’m proud of them,” Meyers senior captain Johnny Torres added. “We never made it this far ever and keep our heads up for the next game.”
DISTRICT 2 CLASS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP
Scranton Prep 3, Meyers 1
First half — No scoring. Second half — 1. SP, Cullen Myers (penalty kick), 45:50; 2. SP, Corbin White (direct kick); 3. SP, Alec Buttner, 55:10; 4. MEY, Dodly Magliore, 77:05.
Shots — MEY 6; SP 19. Saves — MEY 10 (Joel Vazquez); SP 4 (Garry Wrobleski). Corner kicks — MEY 2; SP 8.