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The first thing Steve Fonash did when he returned for his third stint as Forest City soccer coach was move several returning players into new positions.
The players responded to the adjustments and quickly developed into a winning combination that produced an unbeaten regular season and Lackawanna League North Division championship despite having only one senior in the starting lineup.
"It's exciting," Fonash said. "They've really improved themselves as the season went on."
The Foresters already had success last season, going 8-3-1 under Jack Pisarcik, but they lost leading scorer, Matt Pisarcik, Jack's son.
"The team was very young coming back, but we knew there was talent there," Fonash said. "I kind of switched things up with some players who were on offense and moved them around."
Fonash moved midfielder Jonathan Chesnick up to a striker position and Chesnick has responded by leading the team in scoring with 16 goals and four assists.
The Pisarcik triplets, Justin, Jared and Jason, moved back to join Matt Sibio to form the defensive unit.
"They're very quick with good skills," Fonash said. "I switched them to go with speed on defense."
Chesnick and the four defensive players are all juniors.
Strength there and in the midfield has allowed young players to excel on the forward line.
Freshman Ian White and sophomore Stan Vitzakovitch are tied for second on the team with 10 goals and four assists.
"It's a defensive system where we do a lot of counterattacking," Fonash said. "We try to stop the opponent as close to midfield as we can. The fullbacks can counterattack and the midfielders will switch with them.
"The real strength of our team is at midfield. I think we have the best midfield in the league."
Ryan Ogozaly, the only senior starter, is at midfield along with juniors Steve Beautz and Mike McGraw.
"Ryan's the real heart of the team," Fonash said. "He just shows tremendous hustle both offensively and defensively.
"Our entire midfield has really dominated most of the games we've played."
Beautz has eight goals and seven assists. McGraw, despite additional defensive responsibilities has seven goals and six assists. Ogozaly has a goal and leads the team with eight assists.
Junior Steve Sosnowski has used the defensive support to post nine shutouts in 13 games.
Senior Steve Scavone and junior Taylor Myer are the top subs. They each have two goals and an assist.
Scavone has started two games at fullback, but plays some at all three positions.
Myer, who plays midfield and striker, gives the junior class nine players among the team's top 13.
"The kids are thrilled," Fonash said. "Being undefeated meant a lot to them. Setting the school record for shutouts meant a lot.
"We changed a lot and they have responded."
The Foresters clinched the title by beating second-place Lakeland in the regular-season finale to finish 12-0 in the league.
After a scoreless first half, Steve Beautz and Mike McGraw scored unassisted goals in the 2-1 victory.
Fonash, a seventh-grade world geography and 11th-grade world history teacher, has been at the school for 35 years. He started the program in 1972, coached until 1982 and returned for one year in 1995.
Although eligible to retire after this year, Fonash has no plans to do so. He said he also plans on coming back to coach next season and will take it "year-by-year" from there.
Fonash's teams won league titles in 1978 and again in 1982 when all-state player and Northeast Athletic Conference scoring leader Dave Lauriha led the Foresters to their last unbeaten regular season.
WEEK IN REVIEW
Blue Ridge completed its Lackawanna League Class AA girls' cross country championship season by winning four meets by the maximum 15-50 score.
The Raiders defeated Lakeland, Lackawanna Trail, Susquehanna and host Mountain View to finish 22-1.
Montrose's Tara Chiarella finished the league season unbeaten by taking first place in wins over the same four teams. Montrose and Blue Ridge had already competed against each other in an earlier meet.
The Lady Meteors finished the season 16-7.
In boys' cross country, Blue Ridge won three out of four in the final cluster meet to finish 14-9.
Montrose also won three out of four to finish above .500 at 12-11.
In high school football, Scranton Prep and Montrose combined for 598 yards rushing Friday night when the Cavaliers spoiled Homecoming for the winless Meteors, 34-14.
Prep had a 354-244 advantage on the ground in the Lackawanna Football Conference Division II game.
The Cavaliers used runs of 27 yards by Don Loftus and 23 yards by Dean Silvon to take a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Montrose, which moved into Prep territory before fumbling and punting on two first-quarter possessions, answered the second score by driving 79 yards on 14 plays.
The Meteors converted four straight third-down situations.
Dominick Lucenti passed to Dennis Moore to convert from six and eight yards then Jared Fowler converted twice on third-and-two. Fowler, who led the Meteors with 101 yards on 16 carries, ran through a big hole off left tackle and went 27 yards for the touchdown with 5:39 left in the half.
Prep pushed the lead to 21-6 when Loftus scored his second touchdown, both of which came off inside reverses.
Silvon led the Cavaliers with 186 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries. He scored on a seven-yard run in the third quarter, then broke a 97-yarder one play after the Meteors fumbled while threatening to cut into a 21-point deficit.
Lucenti's 49-yard run with 5:04 remaining and Taylor Smith's two-point conversion run completed the scoring for the Meteors.
Lucenti carried seven times for 66 yards while Smith carried 13 times for 62 yards.
Jared Olah was in on 10 tackles to lead Montrose.
Prep, however, managed 463 yards, averaging more than nine per play while racking up 21 first downs.
The next day, Susquehanna scored twice in 2 1/2 minutes late in the third quarter, but missed a two-point attempt to get back within one touchdown and watched as Mid Valley pulled away from a 39-18 LFC Division III victory.
The Sabers mounted two comeback threats before the Spartans dominated the final 13:23 to put the game away.
After Susquehanna closed within, 27-18, late in the third quarter, Mid Valley outgained the Sabers, 113-minus 6, the rest of the way.
Ryan Rempe, who hit nine of 15 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns, threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first 2:10 of the second quarter for a 13-0 lead.
The Sabers answered with their best drive of the game, overcoming a penalty that cost them 31 yards on a long run by quarterback Anthony Dorunda.
Dorunda still carried four times for 40 yards and hit Ernie Taylor with a 15-yard pass in the drive that resulted in a 13-yard touchdown run by C.J. Felter.
The Sabers appeared to reach the Spartans 17 on a successful fake punt pass from Nick Ott to Felter in the closing seconds of the half, but the play was wiped out because of an illegal receiver downfield.
Mid Valley got the ball back with two seconds left and made the most of the opportunity when Rempe threw his third touchdown pass of the quarter. His heave down the left sideline was tipped but wound up in the arms of Justin Siekierka for a 55-yard touchdown pass.
Rempe ran in the two-point conversion on a fake kick to make the halftime score, 21-6.
The first of Andy Wolak's three second-half touchdown runs stretched the lead to 27-6 midway through the third quarter.
The Sabers used two turnovers to get back in the game.
Dustin Shaw intercepted a pass and weaved his way up the left side for an 86-yard touchdown return.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cody Kuiper forced and recovered a fumble.
Dorunda passed 27 yards to Ott and ran twice for 16 yards to set up Taylor's one-yard touchdown run. Taylor was stopped on the two-point try, however, leaving the Sabers with a nine-point deficit with 1:23 left in the third quarter.
They never threatened again.
Wolak, who finished with 125 yards on 18 carries, added two short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter and both teams played their reserves for the final 5:47.
Felter led the Sabers with 48 yards rushing on nine carries.
In addition to his interception return for a touchdown, Shaw made eight tackles, including one for a loss.
In girls' tennis, Wallenpaupack eliminated Montrose during the semifinals of the District 2 Class AA team championships with a 4-1 victory.
In high school golf, Montrose lost to Dunmore on a tiebreaker in the Lackawanna League quarterfinals, ending a season in which the Meteors finished second in the Northern Division.
In girls' soccer, Montrose maintained its share of first place in the Lackawanna League North Division with an outburst early in its game against Elk Lake.
The Lady Meteors scored six times in less than 15 minutes to open the game on the way to a 7-0 romp.
Brittany Ely, who later added an assist, scored twice in the first 5:06.
Amber Lattner scored the next four goals.
Autumn Ely assisted her sister's second goal and Lattner's first.
The Lady Meteors also beat Blue Ridge, 4-0.
Nikki Printz and Brittany Ely scored the first two goals then Lattner added the last two to give her 28 on the season.
In professional hockey, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins remained as the only unbeaten team in the American Hockey League by winning three times in less than 48 hours, including an easy 5-1 romp over the Binghamton Senators on home ice Saturday.
The Penguins jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period and extended it to 5-0 in the second against Binghamton.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton then ran off six straight goals Sunday in an 8-3 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Michel Ouellet had two goals and an assist in both wins while Erik Christensen had a goal and three assists in each game.
The Penguins are 7-0, outscoring opponents by a total of 34-12.
Lycoming College defensive tackle Dave Van Nort was named Middle Atlantic Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the 33-30 overtime upset over nationally ranked Ithaca October 15.
The junior defensive tackle from Montrose was in on 14 tackles, including eight first hits, a forced fumble, three tackles for losses and assists on a pair of sacks.
Van Nort forced the fumble with 4:30 left in regulation, setting up Lycoming for the touchdown that forced overtime.
On the season, Van Nort is second on the team in tackles, first in tackles for losses (10 for 26 yards) and tied for first in sacks (three for 13 yards).
Blue Ridge is looking for a return to the Class AA girls' state cross country meet when it runs along with the rest of the county schools in the District 2 championships Wednesday at Scranton Municipal Golf Course.
Blue Ridge was second out of 19 teams a year ago. Janelle Collins and Katrina Rinehimer were second and third on the team at last year's district meet by finishing 14th and 18th.
Montrose's Tara Chiarella was the district runner-up last season and also returns.
Jeff Olienacz of Montrose was the only county boy to reach the state meet last season. He is also back.
In girls' soccer, Montrose and Lakeland are tentatively set to determine the Lackawanna League North Division title in a playoff game Thursday night. Each first needed to win one more league game.
Mountain View and Montrose will both be part of the District 2 tournament, which could start as early as Wednesday.
In boys' soccer, the District 2 tournament starts this week in three classifications.
Forest City and Mountain View have qualified for the Class A tournament.
Mountain View went 10-3-1 despite playing in Division I against all larger schools.
Elk Lake won a playoff game Friday to earn another of the berths.
In high school football, Montrose will have a good chance to post its first win of the season when it hosts Western Wayne Friday in a meeting of winless LFC Division II teams.
Susquehanna (1-2 in the division, 3-5 overall) hosts first-place Lackawanna Trail (3-0, 6-2) in an LFC Division III game.
The last two unbeatens in District 2 meet Saturday when Delaware Valley plays at Abington Heights for the LFC Division I lead.
Last week's predictions were 10-0 for the second straight week, making our record 29-1 for the last three weeks and 67-18 (78.9 percent) for the season.
This week's predictions, with winners in CAPS: MONTROSE 41, Western Wayne 14; LACKAWANNA TRAIL 37, Susquehanna 8; HONESDALE 23, Wallenpaupack 22; WEST SCRANTON 23, Scranton 20; NORTH POCONO 38, Valley View 25; CARBONDALE 20, Scranton Prep 15; MID VALLEY 42, Riverside 7; LAKELAND 28, Dunmore 12; OLD FORGE 32, Bishop O'Hara 25; ABINGTON HEIGHTS 35, Delaware Valley 23.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com.
GORDON Is Back To His Winning Ways
Martinsville, VA – Jeff Gordon won his seventh victory Sunday at Martinsville in the Subway 500 to sweep the season series at the oldest track on NASCAR’s circuit.
Tony Stewart, who finished second ahead of Jimmie Johnson, now leads Johnson by 15 points with only four races remaining in this year’s Chase.
The 500-lap race set a new race record with 19 caution flags.
“What a great day,” said Gordon. “I’ve been telling everyone what a great race team we have, and today we showed that.”
Stewart was running third behind Jimmie Johnson with six laps remaining. Stewart nudged the rear of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet just enough to make him slip up the track, and allow Stewart to take the spot away.
“Well, if I could have caught him (Stewart), I would have done the same to him,” said Johnson.
Stewart also had problems with Greg Biffle, calling him an “idiot” in a post-race comment.
“Tony (Stewart) has a problem with running guys into the fence the second he gets a position on them,” said Biffle.
Sunday wasn't a good day for several of the Chase drivers. Kurt Busch, Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin all had bad days to drop further out of the lead.
For Martin it was a terrible weekend. First, he crashed his primary car during practice and started 35th in his backup. Midway during the race, his brakes caught fire, and he had to bring his No. 6 Viagra Ford into the garage for repairs.
When he returned to the track, he was 31 laps down, and was only able to manage a 34th-place finish, which cost him two spots in the Chase. He is now 170 points behind the leader.
Rusty Wallace was running fifth when he was hit from behind by Jeff Burton and pushed into the inside wall. After repairs, he finished 19th.
Kurt Busch, the 2004 Nextel Cup champion was assessed a one lap penalty for rough driving, after he bumped Michael Waltrip, sending his No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet into the wall. Busch did make up the lap to finish sixth.
From my perspective, there are only four drivers that still have a chance at winning this year’s championship. They are: Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson (-15), Ryan Newman (-63), and Greg Biffle (-83).
Carl Edwards, the fifth-place driver is 149 points behind the leader, and it’s not likely that he, or any of the other five Chase drivers can make up enough points in just four races.
Chase For The Nextel Cup Contenders: 1. Stewart-5957, 2. Johnson-5942, 3. Newman-5894, 4. Biffle-5874, 5. Edwards-5808, 6. R. Wallace-5791, 7. Martin-5787, 8. Busch-5785, 9. Kenseth-5785, 10. Mayfield-5741.
From The Pits: RUDD AND MARTIN, Martinsville, VA – Ricky Rudd and Mark Martin are two veteran Nextel Cup drivers that are nearing the finish line. Martin, who had originally planned to slow down after this season, says he will be back for a full 2006 Cup season. Rudd on the other hand isn’t talking about his retirement.
Rudd’s second-place qualifying effort for Sunday's Subway 500 shows he can still get the job done, but he refused to answer questions about his future in Nextel Cup racing.
"No disrespect to everybody, but it's just not time to announce anything yet," he said.
Rudd is driving the No. 21 Ford owned by the Wood Brothers this season, but he's declined to answer questions about plans to drive that car in 2006 or plans to drive another car or retire.
"We're very aware of the support we have from them," continued Rudd. "The last thing we want to do is make it appear like we're snubbing them. It's not intended that way.
"When everything comes out and all the hands get played, I think everyone will see there were reasons why things needed to be kept under wraps. The time has not come to divulge it. I wish I could. I wish I could tell everybody what's going on, but it's not time to do that."
At the insistence of team owner, Jack Roush, Mark Martin has adjusted his 2006 racing schedule that will allow him to continue as driver of the No. 6 Nextel Cup Ford.
"I came out of Talladega very frustrated with myself for getting into the situation of having to go forward and needing to go forward one year," Martin said. "But I'm really at peace with it because of what Jack Roush has done for me and for what my team has done for me."
At the heart of Martin's problems was the promise he made to his wife Arlene and son Matt. After years of being on the road, being away from his family, Martin was ready to spend more time at home.
"I said I was going put my family first and as soon as it came up, Jack Roush went to sit down with Matt and Arlene," Martin continued. "That's how I'm getting around putting my family first, because if they said no, then I wouldn't do it.
"They were fine with it, (although) they're on their own."
Martin's second goal -- the start of his Truck Series career -- is in limbo.
"I have been disappointed from time to time that I wasn't able to go on and do my truck racing like I planned," he said. "What I am excited about is I have already tested my truck.
Martin's third goal was to simply enjoy what would have been his final season in Nextel Cup. In that way, 2005 has met or exceeded his expectations.
The top-10 Busch Series leaders after 32 of 35 races: 1. Truex-4511, 2. Bowyer-4411, 3. Edwards-4140, 4. Sorenson-4082, 5. Hamlin-3842, 6. K. Wallace-3768, 7. Menard-3710, 8. D. Green-3510, 9. Keller-3504, 10. Stremme-3457.
The top-10 Craftsman Truck Series leaders after 21 of 25 races: 1. Musgrave-3037, 2. Setzer-2983, 3. Hornaday-2815, 4. T. Bodine-2727, 5. Hamilton-2698, 6. Skinner-2691, 7. Spencer-2675, 8. Crafton-2610, 9. Starr-2607, 10. Craven-2566.
The Nextel Cup and Craftsman Trucks are at Atlanta, while the Busch Series has the weekend off.
Saturday, October 29, Craftsman Trucks EasyCare Vehicle Service Contracts 200, race 22 of 25, 130 laps/200 miles, 3 p.m. TV: Speed Channel.
Sunday, October 30, Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, race 33 of 36, 325 laps/500 miles, 12 noon TV: NBC.
Racing Trivia Question: Who is the current driver of the No. 11 Fed-Ex Cup car?
Last Week’s Question: How many full-time Cup teams does Hendrick Motorsports have? Answer. Four. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, and Kyle Busch.
You may read additional stories by the Racing Reporter at www.race500.com. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may write him at P. O. Box 160711, Mobile, AL 36616.
Mountain View senior Whitney Williams has reason to celebrate the culmination of her high school career in one sport and the prospect of starting her college career in another sport.
Williams, who reached the 100-goal mark for her high school soccer career last week, recently made a verbal commitment to accept a full softball scholarship from the University of Massachusetts.
Although Williams earned starting spots at Mountain View in soccer, basketball and softball by the end of her freshman seasons, she has received the most college attention in softball.
Massachusetts has kept an eye on Williams, a shortstop, since the summer of 2003, her first with the Conklin Raiders.
"The entire team is recruited as either shortstops or pitchers," Williams said. "They said they wanted me as being the most athletic and that I could play any position.
"I'll try to go in and win the shortstop position."
The UMass coaches followed one of Williams' teammates two years ago, then kept their eye on Williams and convinced her to come up for a visit earlier this month.
"I went up there for a visit and loved it," she said.
UMass, which went 37-16-1 last season, is the defending Atlantic 10 Conference tournament champion and has been to the last 11 NCAA Division I tournaments. Overall, the Minutewomen have won 18 Atlantic 10 titles and have made 15 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Williams' soccer career will end whenever Mountain View falls in the playoffs, which start later this week.
When basketball moves into regular season play in December, Williams will also be working on practicing softball to get ready for the next season.
Before she is done in basketball, Williams is likely to add the 1,000-point milestone.
The 100-goal mark in soccer, which is much more rare, was made possible when Williams scored more than 40 goals last season to lead the Lackawanna League.
She entered last week's game against Elk Lake in need of four goals to hit 100.
After scoring three, she got one more to hit the mark.
"It was a breakaway," Williams said. "My friend, Autumn (Laskey), kicked it up from defense.
"I started in for a breakaway and the Elk Lake girl stole it from me, but I got it back."
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