ENOLA — East Pennsboro did everything it could to seal a win in the first round of the District 3-AA boys soccer playoffs Monday night.
In the end, it just didn’t pay off, as the No. 8 Panthers couldn’t find a goal, as they fell to ninth-ranked Wyomissing, 1-0. at East Pennsboro Area High School.
Wyomissing advances to the quarterfinals, where it will face top-ranked Lancaster Mennonite at a site and time to be determined.
Both teams were looking for a quick start, but the only one that came out quickly was the Spartans. Jake DiPillo found some space with a loose ball, took two quick dribbles and ripped a shot into the far corner, just 23 seconds into the contest for what would be the eventual game-winner.
“I don’t think either team came out ready or it might have just been a great individual play,” Wyomissing coach Eric Millar said. “I didn’t like any bit of our play on offense today. We struggled to put an attack together and we were under attack the whole second half because we didn’t clear the ball out.”
The Panthers (12-7) came into the contest after dropping a key divisional batter to West Perry last week, and needed to get a good start as they also failed to come out of the gate that night.
They eventually responded and controlled the majority of the final 60 minutes of the game, but couldn’t solve Spartans keeper Liam Fautley. The keeper only made seven saves, but none were easy rollers. He benefitted from the Panthers’ inability to keep shots on the cage. The Panther attack sailed seven shots over the crossbar.
“We have seen this before as we fall behind early and battle like crazy to catch up but can’t find the net,” East Pennsboro coach Randy Rich said. “We had several opportunities early and should have been able to put this game away early. We did a much better job in the second half to control the game and get chances, but we rushed shots or made poor decisions on passes. We just didn’t want to give up an early or easy goal, but we did and we had to battle from behind the whole game.”
Colin Grove seemed to benefit the most for the Panthers as he ran the middle of the field and had a couple of opportunities, but had a couple of shots blocked and two sailed over the top. His luck went south in the second half as he ran onto a loose ball and ripped a shot that bounced right off the goal post and back to him. His second shot glanced off a defender and hit the keeper, who fielded the ball.
Fautley also punched out two crosses, but was right where he needed to be on forward Sebastian Oliveira. He fielded three headers in the crease from Oliveira alone.
East Pennsboro finally found its legs and shut down the Spartan attack after the first 20 minutes. DiPilla and Trent Moyer, who combined for 27 goals this year, only got off two shots the rest of the game.
“We had a great season and we really felt we had an opportunity,” Rich said. “We just struggled to come from behind and finish goals. It is never easy to lose your last game in the playoffs. We had our chances, but it wasn’t to be.”