Thursday November 15, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
North Collins’ Austin Winter starts the ball up the field in a 2-0 loss in the Far West Regionals played at Hamburg. (Photo by Michaal J. Petro)
When North Collins head coach Jay Walters went to scout his boys soccer team’s next opponent at the Section V Class D cross-over championship game, he did not see what would become a very important piece to the Far West Regional game.
Missing from Jasper-Troupsburg’s sectional title game victory over Webster Christian was one of the team’s top scorers, Tyler Van Skiver, who was sitting because of receiving a second yellow card in the game prior.
Walters couldn’t miss VanSkiver on the field in Saturday’s (Nov. 10) Far West match at Hamburg High School as the Jasper-Troupsburg junior returned to the lineup and scored both of the game’s goals in his team’s 2-0 win over North Collins.
He scored the opener about midway through the first half off a corner kick and then sent home a loose ball on a quick rush from Jasper less than two minutes into the second half.
The Eagles came out of halftime a confident group after controlling possession and playing in Jasper’s half of the field for much of the final 15 minutes of the first half, but were caught somewhat off guard by Jasper’s quick attack to start the second.
“We knew VanSkiver is a great player. Unfortunately he didn’t play in the game we went over to see,” Walters said. “That first goal, when you watch enough of these games, that’s what you see in these Far Western Regionals. It was a beautiful cross, and a nice flick from a great player...It came early and I think we were able to make some adjustments and we took some risks, which is why they were able to pick up the second goal, on top of the fact that they’re a really good team.”
That second goal solidified Jasper-Troupsburg’s first state semifinal berth since the 2003 season. The program won a state title the year before. It was VanSkiver’s 17th tally of the season.
“They got into being in a hurry to score and that just doesn’t work here in these games,” said Jasper head coach Herb Baker. “After the game, their coach was saying, ‘We didn’t know about Tyler. We didn’t see him.’ Tyler’s a definite factor out there.”
Walters said he forgot to remind his players at halftime of the “all-important five-minutes,” referring to the first and last five of each half. “Maybe we overplayed that a little bit thinking we’d be much better off going into the second half,” Walters admitted.
Baker had hoped that his team could do some effective passing on the North Collins’ defense but he said his team was stymied many times by some good interceptions. “They’re pretty quick to the ball,” Baker noted of the Eagles.
The Eagles were also creating some chances offensively. They never got off a real quality shot on net in the first half, but down 2-0 in the second, created three good opportunities during a six-minute barrage starting around midway through the half.
During that time, Todd Youngman was stopped on two identical looking free kicks in which Jasper goalie Cameron Groff went high into the air to poke the ball over the cross bar. With 19 minutes to go, Chris Pulinski came in and took a good shot at the net but it was right on Groff.
“We slid the ball around and put our best pieces where we could in the field, but Jasper’s a great team with a great tradition,” Walters said. “I think we brought a lot of pressure in the second half. I’m real proud of the way the guys played in that half.”
Jasper played North Collins’ leading scorer Jared Keppel very closely. Keppel played a physical game and at times, got the ball to his feet but never had a legitimate opportunity.
“We knew Jared was going to be tough not only in scoring but also assisting,” said Baker, paying the North Collins’ striker a compliment. “He was probably better than I even thought he was going to be. He’s a good rugged player and good with the ball.”
The Eagles, who finished the season at 13-3, have won four straight sectional titles but been unable to advance past the Far West round in that time.
For the first time in school history, both the Jasper boys and girls soccer teams made it to the state semifinals, a fitting tribute as its community still mourns the sudden death last month of a 14-year-old freshman soccer player, Jacob Davis.