SCRANTON — Abington Heights struck first but, after a discussion at halftime, Scranton Prep came out firing. The Cavaliers produced their first tally early in the second half and added two more goals to defeat the Comets, 3-1, in a Lackawanna League Division 1 game on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at Loyola Field.
The win gave Scranton Prep (11-0-1) its first boys soccer Lackawanna League title since 2003.
“The league has changed a lot in terms of restructuring teams (over the years),” Scranton Prep head coach Sean Curry said. “We’ve always been the team looking up at Abington Heights, Valley View or North Pocono. It’s nice to add a number to the banner.”
John McGarry gave Abington Heights a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute of the contest when he scored off an assist from Spencer Atkins on the Comets first shot of the game.
Abington Heights (10-3) had another scoring chance in the 10th minute, but Blake Hammert stopped a shot from Brad Sopinski.
Comets defender Patrick Beatty made an important clear of the ball in front of the Abington Heights net in 13th minute, preventing the Cavaliers from attempting a shot.
Abington Heights’ Dom Angelicola also had a key block on a shot from Prep’s Mario Rotell in the 30th minute of play.
Scranton Prep managed just one shot on goal in the first half and sent several others wide of the net.
“We hadn’t played a first half like that all season,” Curry said. “We hadn’t been down at halftime. This was the first time we faced that kind of adversity. When you’re playing a team as talented as Abington Heights, you know they want the win just as bad as we do. Our first goal built the momentum for the next goal which completely changed the way the game was being played. Abington Heights completely outplayed us in the first half and we talked during halftime about how heart and hustle will create opportunities.”
Scranton Prep generated four quality scoring chances in the first 13 minutes of the second half and tied the game when Justin Hammert scored off an assist from Cullen Myers.
“He’s so strong (with the ball) and he’s so unselfish,” Curry said of Myers. “He’s leading the league in scoring, but is just as happy to give up the ball and set up one of his teammates.”
Justin Hammert struck again, in the 57th minute, when his free kick trickled into the net after Comets goalkeeper Jackson Danzig initially made the save.
“I think the sun helped me a bit, but you’ll take what you get,” Hammert said. “It was big for our momentum. Once we got that second goal, we weren’t going to look back. We just kept pushing forward.”
Justin Hammert added the final goal by slipping a shot past Danzig after making a run through the center of the Comets defense in the 76th minute.
“We don’t panic when we’re down,” he said. “We haven’t been down much, but we keep our composure. We know, in the end, we’re going to give our all to make sure we come out victorious.”
Despite the loss, Abington Heights head coach Steve Klingman was pleased with his team’s play heading into the District 2 Class 3A playoffs which begin Wednesday, Oct. 28.
“I thought we played good enough to win the game,” he said. “We had a lot of possession and created as many changes as they did. We’re not going to score a ton of goals so we can’t make mistakes, and we made a couple crucial mistakes.”