HAMBURG >> Lansdale Catholic stepped into its state semifinal with Lewisburg expecting to be a de facto state championship.
The Crusaders’ opponent in their PIAA Class AA semifinal, Lewisburg, was the defending state champion, so to be state champs, they’d have to beat a state champ. The Crusaders gave it a good run but fell short 2-1 to end their season Tuesday night at Hamburg Area High School.
Lewisburg’s talisman, senior striker Joey Bhangdia, was the reason, scoring two excellent goals in a game the Green Dragons dominated in stretches.
“We’ve played some really good teams this year and they were definitely up there,” LC coach Joe Wilson said. “They were one of those teams who could really move the ball well. They kept it moving at a fast pace and didn’t give us anything easy. All our success today, we had to earn.”
Lewisburg had the better of run of play early but couldn’t find a way to break down the Crusaders back line. The majority of chances in the first half were off corner kicks with both defenses doing well to prevent shots. Lewisburg started with three corners to just two for LC in the first 12 minutes.
LC didn’t have as much possession and when it did, looked to play direct and over the top. The approach paid off when a long ball to Josh Yurastis was kicked out for a corner just past the 17:30 mark of the first half.
Senior Noah Saba took the kick and sent it right to sophomore Kyle Kane. In the air, Kane flicked the ball off his head and in to the net with 17:20 left in the half.
“We came into tonight knowing they were going to be a high-quality team,” LC keeper Jack Kane said. “As defending state champions, that says enough. We knew they played a heavy possession game. I felt we played with them well and were able to move the ball up the field.”
The lead was short-lived as Davis Baylor got down the right side, shook off a defender and got off a low cross to Bhangdia. With a gaping net, the Penn recruit hit it hard, low and with no doubt into the net to tie the game with 13:28 left in first half.
Josh Moyer put a late first half scare into LC, but a diving palm by Jack Kane kept it out and allowed the score to go level at half.
Much like the first half, Lewisburg controlled much of the pressure in the second half. Lewisburg kept knocking and it felt like it was more a matter of when than if it would find another score.
The when came with 19:02 left when Will Brock played Bhangdia down the right side and the senior finished with a class hit a step outside the area.
“It was just a fantastic shot,” Wilson said. “If you’re going to lose a game, you’d want it to be on a shot like that.”
Saba had a take with 13:02 left but it was hit right to the keeper. LC had a couple last spells in attack but wasn’t able to put anything on frame.
“We had three really nice plays in (the second) half and the opportunities looked like they were going to happen,” Wilson said. ”
Top Photo: Lansdale Catholic’s Chris Edling beats Lewisburg’s Harrison Gronlund on a head ball during their PIAA Class AA semifinal on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)