SILVER SPRING TOWNSHIP — Usually when Central Dauphin and Cumberland Valley meet, a lot more than a win that night is on the line.
The two teams have combined for eight of the past 10 Mid-Penn Commonwealth titles, with the other two going to State College and Chambersburg. Central Dauphin and Cumberland Valley were still in the mix the two seasons they didn’t win the division. And that’s not even counting multiple Rams-Eagles meetings in the District 3 playoffs over the years.
On Tuesday evening, he Eagles drew first blood in 2019, using a late Cameron Platt goal to knock off Central Dauphin 2-1 at Eagle View Stadium at Cumberland Valley High School.
With the scored tied 1-1 late in regulation following a Rams goal early in the second half, Leach sent a long ball to the far wing where Philip Lundblad corralled it, beat his defender toward the baseline and dropped a slick roller to the edge of the 6-yard box. Platt ran onto it and didn’t miss, ripping it past CD goalie Eric Axtman into the corner.
The goal came with 3:33 left to play, and the Eagles were able to work the clock despite the Rams’ pressure.
“That is a play that we have been working on in practice, beat your defender and drop the ball off,” Platt said. “I was screaming Phil’s name the whole time for the ball. We even worked on that play yesterday in practice. Somebody has to be there to knock it home. I scored in a big game last year, but this one was big, especially in the last five minutes.”
Both teams played a solid, physical game, with few whistles blown. Every ball was challenged, and many balls were deflected and sent the opposite way.
Cumberland Valley (2-1, 1-0 Commonwealth) controlled the contest early but couldn’t dent the Rams’ goal, tended by Axtman. That was until midway through the first half when Patryck Nitecki found Eric Leach on a through ball — CD’s sideline contended it was offside — and Leach stuck it behind Axtman for the goal.
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Central Dauphin (0-1-1, 0-1) finally got legs after that. Jason Kline had two opportunities but both shots sailed right to Eagle keeper Luke Snyder.
After halftime, the Rams capitalized. Ethan Flickinger sent the ball in and John Axtman nodded it past Snyder for the equalizer.
“This rivalry has really helped both our teams,” Leach said. “A lot of us play together on club and travel teams and also play against each other. We are very competitive, so it is almost like two titans coming at each other in the season. It was a hard-fought game for both teams, and we were able to come out on top.”
Luke Snyder had six saves for the Eagles in his first year after current Virginia Tech freshman Matt Zambetti graduated.
“Luke is really stepping up and had some big saves in each game,” Leach said. “He is strong in the air and is starting to fill those shoes of Zambetti.”
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