OLYPHANT – Three Susquehanna County soccer teams have undergone coaching changes as they prepare for the 2019 season.
The Montrose girls will try to defend their Lackawanna League Division 2 and District 2 Class A titles under the guidance of veteran coach Harrison Williams, who moved to the area a year ago.
Representing Montrose at the Lackawanna Soccer League Media Day were, from left: boys coach Dan Cherney, Theodore Lubash, Jason Smith, Chalice Guyette, Lizzy Lathrop and new girls coach Harrison Williams (Tom Robinson Photo)
Mountain View's attendees at the Lackawanna Soccer League Media Day were, from left: boys coach Roger Thomas, Connor Richmond, Mike DeWolfe, Regan Cameron, Abby Neri, girls coach Todd Calabro (Tom Robinson Photo)
New Elk Lake girls coach Katie Mitchell, left, attended the Lackawanna Soccer League Media Day along with, from left, Megan Bosscher, Katie Cusatis, Noah Johnson and Alex Bradish. (Tom Robinson Photo)
The Mountain View boys will turn to a familiar face. Roger Thomas has returned to guide the program that he led to a state championship and runner-up finish in the only two state final appearances ever by a team from the county.
Katie Mitchell moves up from assistant to take over the Elk Lake girls team.
The three coaches were there, each with two of their top players, Wednesday during the third annual Lackawanna Soccer League Media Day at the Regal Room.
The girls' league will begin play Aug. 31 with the boys' league following Sept. 3.
Montrose and Mountain View finished first and second in both the division and district girls races last season.
Williams takes over a team that suffered heavy graduation losses after going undefeated in league play.
Among those missing is Maddy Gilhool, who set a state record with 81 goals last season and is the school's all-time leader with 187 goals. She is now playing National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I soccer at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Williams takes over for Jenton Esworthy.
A former four-year starter at Franklin & Marshall University and long-time, semi-professional player in New York, Williams had been spending summers at Camp Susquehannock in Brackney since he was nine years old. There, he learned from and eventually worked with the late Charlie Slagle, the former president of the US College Soccer Coaches Association while coaching at Davidson.
"He was a huge influence on American soccer," said Wheeler said, who moved to the area after retiring from a 39-year career teaching and coaching in New York City.
Senior striker Chalice Guyette, junior midfielder Lizzy Lathrop, junior defender Lindsey Coy, sophomore midfielder Cici Adams and sophomore striker Tangi Smith are the returning starters.
"There was enough success that there are some people that might want to get back at us," Williams said.
Mountain View could lead the list of teams in pursuit.
The Lady Eagles return eight starters after going 11-4 in the league.
Defender Abby Neary, the team's only senior, is a two-time all-star.
Juniors Regan Cameron and Jade Travis are also back on defense.
"I'm sophomore and junior heavy, but they are very good and they are experienced," Mountain View coach Todd Calabro said.
Natalie Cross, Marissa Salansky, Tori Polugh and Rebecca Plomchok all started last season as sophomores.
Cross had 22 goals in the 10 games she played before being injured and received first-team, all-star recognition. Salansky was a second-teamer.
Mitchell, who was a three-sport athlete at Elk Lake with basketball and softball in addition to being the soccer goalkeeper, said she is emphasizing conditioning and technique.
"Our first two weeks of practice, there are no shots," she said. "You have to earn every shot. You earn your opportunities to shoot."
Mitchell has three seniors and three juniors returning to the starting lineup.
Forward Katie Cusatis, midfielder Megan Bosscher and defender Mercedes Zajaczkowski are the seniors.
Davia Adams is a junior midfielder. Charity Kasson and Tamara Voda are back after playing defense last season, but either could move to other positions at times this season.
Elk Lake and Forest City tied atop Division 3 with 7-7 records last season when Amanda Cina was in her first season coaching her alma mater with the Lady Foresters.
Forest City will be without Emily Kelleher, a senior center midfielder who had back surgery.
Senior goalie Maddie Bailer, senior forward Jessica Curley, senior defender Kaleigh Matoushek, junior midfielders Katie Keller and Bella Pleska, junior forward Isabelle Richner, junior defender Claire Urbas and sophomore defender Maria Spinelli are all returning starter.
"We had a lot of girls come out for the team and our numbers are up," Cina said. "We have 18 girls this year."
Montrose, Forest City and Blue Ridge all finished 10-4 to tie for fourth place out of seven teams in the Division 2 boys' race last season.
"We lost a lot to graduation and a couple guys who would have been seniors this year are concentrating on other sports," Montrose coach Dan Cherney said.
Theodore Lubash, Jason Smith and Henry Rogers are returning starters for the Meteors while Chris Miller, Aiden Birchard and Aiden Martin all saw significant playing time.
Thomas, who was already scheduled to return to coaching on the junior high level, took over the varsity when Joe Scanlon resigned this summer to take a job in Nazareth where he will be assistant coach.
The Eagles may build around the defense where goalkeeper Connor Richmond and defensive center midfielder Mike DeWolfe, both juniors, have been starting since they were freshmen.
Thomas said he may move some players around, but others with returning experience as starters are senior defender Jarrett Corker, senior forward Cayden Scott, junior defender Hunter Jones, junior midfielder Zach Polovitch, junior forward Riley Weida, junior defender Den DeMark, junior midfielder Caleb Eichelberger and sophomore forward Nathan Ofalt.
"We have some other kids who have varsity experience coming off the bench," Thomas said.
The Eagles were 7-6-1 last season as part of Division 2's dominance over Division 3.
Elk Lake was 5-9 to finish third in Division 3.
Blue Ridge's Benjamin Black and Cameron Franks, Forest City's Carmine Gigliotti and Jay Lipko and Elk Lake's Alex Bradish and Noah Johnson were among the top returning players from around the league who represented their teams during Media Day.
Elk Lake's Jason Mowry and the Forest City team led Susquehanna County entries in the Jackman Memorial Boys' Golf Tournament, which opened the fall high school sports season Friday at Scranton Municipal Golf Club.
Mowry's 5-over-par, 77 tied for 11th out of 99 players.
Forest City finished 13th out of 18 full teams with a four-man score of 402.
Montrose was 18th with 426.
North Pocono's Billy Pabst Jr. won the individual title with a 69.
Scranton Prep had four players shoot 76 or better to beat Abington Heights, 293-310, for the team title.
Henry Nebzydowski led Forest City with an 86 and D.J. Heath added an 89.
Montrose was led by A.J. Dovin's 97.
Ben DeMark shot 107 to lead Mountain View, which like Elk Lake, did not have enough players for a team score.
Both Susquehanna and Montrose are on the road when the high school football season opens Friday night.
Susquehanna begins the 50th season since the sport was renewed at the school with a game at Riverside. Montrose is at Wyalusing in Bill Sandly's debut as Meteors coach.
As in previous seasons, we will predict the outcome of all games involving Lackawanna Football Conference teams. Last year's predictions were 122-28 (81.3 percent), including 95-23 (80.5 percent) in the regular season.
This week's predictions with home teams in CAPS: RIVERSIDE 26, Susquehanna 18 … WYALUSING 40, Montrose 13 … Old Forge 32, CARBONDALE 6 … Lackawanna Trail 27, NORTHWEST 21 … West Scranton 23, NORTH POCONO 19 … Valley View 38, WALLENPAUPACK 7 … LAKELAND 17, Honesdale 0 … Pennridge 37, DELAWARE VALLEY 24 … Wyoming Valley West 20, SCRANTON 17 … Lake-Lehman 24, WESTERN WAYNE 23 … SCRANTON PREP 30, Dunmore 12 … Berwick 32, ABINGTON HEIGHTS 13.
TOM ROBINSON writes a weekly local sports column for the Susquehanna County Transcript. He can be reached online at RobbyTR@aol.com or followed on Twitter at @tomjrobinson.
SUSQUEHANNA, PA – Alan Rudalavage, of Newton Lake, PA collected his first Modified win of the season at the Penn Can Speedway on Friday night. Rudalavage led every lap in the 30 lap main event, taking the win over points leader Brian Malcolm. Following them were career best finishers as Nick Pecko, Jamie Bedford and Brad Shaffer completed the top five.
The GRIT Series Southern Riders were in competition with the regular 602 Sportsman and a familiar face parked in victory lane. Mike Schane, of Lake Ariel, PA charged forward from his eleventh starting spot to take home his tenth win of the season.
Other winners on the night were Tommy Groover (Factory Stocks), Butch Green (Street Stocks), Jared Green (600 Modifieds), Mikey Smith (Wingless Sprints), Andy Bolles (4 Cylinders), Trevor Houghton (Junior) and Rodney Renwick (Senior).
The Modifieds were led to the green flag by Alan Rudalavage and Mike Walsh, with Rudalavage jumping into the lead. Justin Holland ran into the back of Brian Malcolm and spun him out, drawing the caution flag and dropping them both to the back of the field. Rudalavage led Nick Petrilak, Dan Pompey, Alan Barker and Nick Pecko down for the restart. The restart was the turning point of the race as Petrilak broke the hub of his wheel and turned sideways in front of the pack. Six cars were locked together with at least three others suffering some damage. Petrilak, Holland, Joe Eisenhauer and Paul Rooney were done for the night while the other cars in the melee returned for the ensuing restart that saw just ten cars remaining. Rudalavage and Pompey became hooked together briefly on the restart but they separated and a no start was called. Rudalavage controlled the race while behind him Pompey and Malcolm battled for second. Pompey ran high and narrowly kept the low line, running Malcolm behind him. At the halfway mark Rudalavage had a solid lead over Pompey and Malcolm, who had a large gap, back to a close battle between Jamie Bedford, Brad Shaffer and Nick Pecko. Pompey packed his wheel with mud and headed to the pits just after halfway. Rudalavage worked well through lapped traffic to maintain his advantage over Malcolm. Pecko was into fourth and was closing in on Bedford for third with ten laps remaining. Just a few laps late Pecko got the better of Bedford to take over third, while Rudalavage continued to roll in the race lead. Rudalavage crossed the finish line first in his NEP sponsored No. 145 and left just the top three on the lead lap. "It must have been a full moon tonight," stated Rudalavage in victory lane. "It was a great track with great people and it's great to be back in victory lane. Our little JPM 358 had her tongue out, but it worked well tonight. I have to thank my crew and sponsors."
Malcolm, of Lake Ariel, PA in the County Waste No. 119 extended his points lead with his second place finish. "We suffered some damage in the pileup," said Malcolm. "We broke a shock but were able to change it. We didn't really have much side bite, but it was a good recovery."
Newcomer to the Dirt Modified ranks, Pecko, of Forest City, PA placed third in his R.B. Fries No. 42. "It was a good run for us but the car's torn up pretty bad," said Pecko. "I was about to park it after the pileup but I figured we'd go back out and we were able to get to third. It's only our third time in a Dirt Modified."
The rest of the top five were Bedford, of Glenwood, PA and Shaffer in his best run of the season. Heat race wins went to Malcolm, Petrilak and Holland.
Mikey Smith put on a clinic in the Wingless Sprint feature event as he led every lap and nearly lapped the field. Don Smith was second ahead of Brandon Clapperton and John Hrinko.
In the combined Junior and Senior Division event Rodney Renwick dominated with the battle for second on the track and first in the Juniors came down to the final set of corners. Trevor Houghton had the spot and Julia Renwick wanted the spot. Renwick ran into the side of Houghton, forcing him up the track and getting by. However, she was penalized for the contact, handing the Junior win to Houghton.
Jared Green was another driver in a league of his own on Friday as he led all the laps and rolled to the victory in the 600 Modified class. Nolan and Tyler Smith battled it out for second in the first half of the event but Nolan slowed just after halfway and went to the infield. At the finish it was Green winning over T. Smith, Dustin Zimmer and Ayden Morgan.
Andy Bolles grabbed the win in the Four Cylinder division, trailed by Ronnie Welch and Jim Backowski.
The GRIT Series Southern Riders Division came to battle Penn Can's own 602 Sportsman in a 30 lap special event. Ryan Stone led in the early going over Michael Mondak. A few laps into the event Mondak was able to grab the race lead ahead of Stone, Brandon Oleski, Randy Brokaw and Frank Payne. The top five remained the same at the halfway mark with the best battle being for the fifth spot between Payne and Mike Schane. The top five remained the same until Brokaw slowed with just six laps remaining. On the restart behind Mondak they raced four wide but the caution flew. On the next restart one lap was scored before another caution on the single lap run track dominator Schane moved from sixth to third. Stone washed wide on the restart letting Schane slip by and start to battle Mondak for the race lead. Mondak battled hard to control the bottom line and he maintained the lead until another caution flew with two laps to go. Under GRIT rules it was a double file restart and Schane took full advantage. Schane charged to the top spot on the outside lane and pulled away from Mondak with Payne up to third place. At the finish Schane grabbed the win by half a straightaway over Mondak, Payne, Dale Welty and Stone.
"Thank the GRIT guys for coming down and Penn Can for the great track tonight," stated Schane. "The double file restarts worked out for us tonight. We tried something in the heat race but we ended up going back to our normal setup and it worked out."
NOTES: Bruce Evans Jr. flipped his Wingless Sprint car during the first heat race of the night. He was transported to an area hospital for further evaluation; he did suffer a concussion. On Sunday, August 25th the Speedway will play host to a benefit to help racer Will Eastman, who suffered burns several weeks ago at the Speedway. There will be no racing at the track next Friday. The regular season will conclude August 30th at the track, for Championship night.
Sunoco Racing Fuel Modified Feature Finish: Alan Rudalavage, Brian Malcolm, Nick Pecko, Jamie Bedford, Brad Shaffer.
Grit Series Southern Riders Stone Bros. Automotive 602 Crate Sportsman Feature Finish: Mike Schane, Michael Mondak, Frank Payne, Dale Welty, Ryan Stone.
Factory Stock Feature Finish: Tommy Groover, Sheldon Whitman, Dusty Decker, Charlie Towner, Nathan Hill.
Insinger Performance Street Stock Feature Finish: Butch green, Damon Decker, Shane Wolf, Jim Sykes, Dan Force.
Four Cylinders Feature Finish: Andy Bolles, Ronnie Welch, Jim Backowski, Nick Kennedy, DNS Cory Brown.
Leeward Construction Inc. 600cc Modified Feature Finish: Jared Green, Tyler Smith, Dustin Zimmer, Ayden Morgan, Nolan Smith.
Wingless Sprint Feature Finish: Mikey Smith, Don Smith, Brandon Clapperton, John Hrinko, DNS Bruce Evans Jr.
Senior Division Feature Finish: Rodney Renwick, Bob Boughton, Alex Boughton, Michael Wheelock.
Cobble Creek Landscape & Florist Junior Division Feature Finish: Trevor Houghton, Julia Renwick, Joshua Landers, Calvin Wheelock.