By Pete Chiodo
The Harbor Creek boys soccer team came into Thursday night’s District 10 Class AA semifinal against Saegertown with the No. 9 ranking among the state’s small schools, according to the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association.
And the Huskies certainly lived up to their reputation, handling the Panthers 3-0 last night at Erie’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Now 17-1-1 on the year, Harbor Creek moves on to face General McLane in the D-10 championship game, slated for Saturday at a time and location to be announced. McLane (12-6-2) was a 3-2 winner over Warren last night.
Saegertown, meanwhile, ends its season — perhaps the best season in the program’s history — with a record of 14-5-1.
“It was a fantastic season,” said Panthers head coach Ryan Schenck. “If you’re going to lose to the best team in District 10 — well, they’ve still got to prove it on Saturday — it’s not too bad.
“But the guys pretty much battled 100 percent for the whole 80 minutes. There were some tired legs, playing two games in a row. But they did what we expected them to do, which was to not give up and play the whole match.”
Harbor Creek put Saegertown in the hole early. A little under six minutes into the game, the Huskies already had their third opportunity around Saegertown’s net. Huskies forward Eric Campbell made this opportunity count, angling a shot low and into the corner just past a diving stop attempt by Saegertown goalie Ross Ferguson.
The rest of the first half was pretty back-and-forth. Harbor Creek kept pressuring Saegertown’s goal. Saegertown had a couple opportunities of its own. But 1-0 the score remained.
That is, until the last few seconds were left on the clock. Harbor Creek hurried a throw-in deep in Saegertown’s territory. The Huskies put a shot on goal that was turned away. But the Panthers couldn’t clear the ball, and Harbor Creek’s Phil Hersch found it sitting loose in front of the goal and buried it, giving the Huskies a 2-0 edge with just 11.9 seconds remaining before the half.
“These guys do a good job of giving up early goals and not giving up,” said Schenck. “We played well enough that we should have gone into halftime probably 1-0. But we gave up that goal with seconds left in the half, kind of put us in a tight spot.”
Harbor Creek made it 3-0 about 10 minutes into the second half. Nick Hersch scored it, getting a nice cross pass from Campbell.
And despite a number of chances after that for Harbor Creek, Ferguson managed to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard the rest of the way, finishing the game with seven saves.
“He made some great saves,” said Schenck. “It was the most goals we gave up all year. But, again, the opposition was quality, so we can deal with it. They had four of the top attacking players in District 10 double-A. A couple of those guys punished us and they got the victory they deserved.”
Saegertown graduates six seniors from the squad. Among them are Ferguson, Brendan Byham, Jeff Mattocks, Eric Brocious, Dillan Lang and Greg Bras.