HERSHEY >> Daniel Boone’s dream of making the District 3 Class AAA boys’ soccer final was doused Monday night at Hersheypark Stadium by one of the strongest squads in the state.
Lower Dauphin, owners of a 22-0 record coming into the match, delivered the alarm bell with a 5-0 semifinal win over the Blazers at Hersheypark Stadium.
LD (23-0) will face Gettysburg, 4-0 winners over Fleetwood, for the AAA title on Thursday, back at Hersheypark Stadium. Boone (13-8) has already clinched its first-ever PIAA berth, by way of making the semifinals, and will rest up for that.
Monday night’s contest was a competitive match for nearly 60 minutes. The unbeaten Falcons got a first-half marker from midfielder Ryan Becher at 7:28, off a feed from Nick Iagnemma, for a 1-0 lead. But Boone held a tight backline and entered the break with an equal number of shots on target, 2-apiece.
“We worked so hard for 60 minutes and I don’t think the score reflects the effort,” Boone head coach Matt Kade said. “So it’s unfortunate to walk away with a five-goal defeat. I thought the first 60 was some of the best, most complete soccer we’ve played all year.”
All that changed when senior centerback and co-captain Matt Lambert picked up a knock and had to depart in the 60th minute. With Lambert’s departure — as a key glue guy defensively for the Blazers — LD found space in the final third down the stretch and cashed in with four goals.
“He’s our glue back there, vocally and physically, Kade said of Lambert, “just about everything. So as soon as he came off, we had to make soome changes, pull another starting defender off due to being banged up a bit. And it just kind of fell apart at that point. Once they got two (goals), we kind of put our heads down and that was that.”
The pressure for LD was released when forward Jackson Becher converted a long strike mere seconds after having one wiped out by an offsides call. Timmy Townsend found Becher from about 20 yards out and the junior beat Boone goalie Stephen Williams clean to the right post at 59:46.
Townsend got in on the act four minutes later, with a putback of a PK carom for a 3-0 lead at 63:55. Williams made a brilliant initial save with a parry but had no chance on the follow-up.
With the lead at three goals, LD notably relaxed and had its way with Boone the rest of the match, freelancing while dominating possession. The Falcons fired 10 seocnd-half shots at Williams, who stopped six.
Townsend corralled his second at 69:01, then Blake Cassel closed out the scoring moments later at 70:03. Josiah Ramirez assisted on both.
“The first half was very back-and-forth,” LD head coach Gerry Lynch said. “The last 15 minutes or so of the half we were under pressure a bit. The second half, we started taking more control and more possession and i think we wore them down a little bit. We were moving the ball, finding gaps and dominate the midfield.
“I think the guys were a lot more composed in the second half and we went back to more of what we’ve been doing.”
The Boone attack which worked so well last week against Manheim Central in the quarterfinals — running balls through the center defense — was locked down by the Falcons. Boone could manage just one shot on goal after the break.
District 3 Class AAA semifinal
at Hersheypark Stadium
Lower Dauphin 5, Daniel Boone 0
LD – Ryan Becher (Nick Iagnemma), 7:28
LD – Jackson Becher (Timmy Townsend), 59:46
LD – Townsend, 63:55
LD – Townsend (Josiah Ramirez), 69:01
LD – Blake Cassel (Ramirez), 70:03
LD 12, DB 3
LD 7, DB 3
LD (Brady Wilson) 3, DB (Stephen Williams) 7
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