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Winning by inches

Scranton Prep survives Dallas in 2A finals

Scranton Prep keeper Colin Moretti (left) comes up with one of his eight saves in front of Dallas’ Yuri Ackerman during the District 2 Class 2A finals on Thursday at Wilkes University. Moretti had to leave the game late with an injury in the Cavaliers’ win.

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

Scranton Prep’s Raymond Hassey (28) battles with Dallas’ A.J. Nardone and Brandon Scharff in the first half of the District 2 Class 2A boys soccer final on Thursday at Wilkes University. Hassey assisted on the game’s lone goal. Dallas turned up the pressure late but could not score the equalizer.

PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER

EDWARDSVILLE — As time was winding down on the Dallas boys soccer season, one last chance was there for the taking.

A Dallas shot bounced toward an open net as Scranton Prep’s keeper was too far away to get back. But Prep defender Josh Huggard sprinted to the goal in a last ditch effort to preserve the shutout.

The senior was successful as he got to the ball about two feet from the line, and with a sliding kick he hooked it out of the area with 1:10 left in the match to keep Dallas off the board. It allowed the Cavaliers to hold on and win their second straight District 2 Class 2A championship with a 1-0 win at Wilkes University’s Schmidt Stadium.

The loss for Dallas marks the first time since 2005 that the Wyoming Valley Conference was left without a district championship in any of the three classifications.

“They slipped through our defense and my number one concern was just get it away from my net and make sure we come out of here district champs,” Huggard said. “I just sprinted and slid as hard as I could and got the ball out of there.”

The final shot was one of many opportunities Dallas (16-1) had in the second half as it outshot the Cavaliers 12-2 in the final 40 minutes. But some of those shots sailed high or wide and some were saved. The Mountaineers controlled the whole second period and if they didn’t get off a shot, Scranton Prep (13-3-1) defenders were swarming around the ball.

Trailing 1-0, the Mountaineers’ first shot of the second half was a big opportunity as the ball nearly sailed over the head of Prep keeper Colin Moretti.

But Moretti managed to just get a piece of it and deflect the ball out of bounds.

Dallas also earned two direct kicks, an indirect kick and four corner kicks in the second half.

“The final 40 was really intense, they took it to us and we knew they would,” Prep coach Sean Curry said. “I’ve known (Dallas coach) Chris (Scharff) a long time, and he’s such a good coach. I knew he would have these guys up for the second half.”

The final corner kick was possibly the biggest chance the Mountaineers had in the match. On the play before, Moretti appeared to have been kicked and laid on the ground. Due to high school rules, the keeper had to be replaced for the last 2:45 of the game.

Connor Fitzsimmons, who was on the field at the time as midfielder, went to the sideline to change jerseys and went in to play in goal. He was tested right away as a shot came to right to him, but he made the catching save.

He stopped two Dallas shots while in net.

The only goal of the match came at the 18:20 mark of the first half. That’s when Mark Fetter took a pass from Raymond Hassey and slotted the ball into the back left side of the net as Dallas trailed for just the second time this season.

The score came after a questionable direct kick was awarded to Prep when two opposing players collided and fell to the turf. Scranton Prep had possession before the whistle blew and got the direct kick.

Even after the goal, Prep could have focused primarily on defense, but kept testing the daunting Dallas defense. The Mountaineers, who only gave up nine goals in the regular season, kicked the ball out of the zone the rest of the game when Prep got close.

“I really was looking for that lead going into half because I know Dallas isn’t used to playing down and we know they’re young and we were hoping to take advantage of that,” Curry said.

Scranton Prep advances to the first round of the PIAA Championships and will play the District 4 champion in Tuesday’s first round.

Scranton Prep 1, Dallas 0

Scranton Prep 1 0 1
Dallas 0 0 0

First half: 1. SP, Mark Fetter (Raymond Hassey) 18:20

Shots: SP 8, DAL 17; Saves: SP 10 (Colin Moretti, Connor Fitzsimmons), DAL 6 (Ryan Koslozki); Corners: SP 1, DAL 5.

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