HEGINS Sometimes in soccer all it takes is just one fantastic shot to propel a club to victory.
In last night's Schuylkill League semi final between Jim Thorpe and Schuylkill Haven that turned out to be exactly the case, thanks to the efforts of 'Canes striker Marcus Repella.
Repella came through for Haven on multiple occasions with two rip shots, helping the 'Canes come away with a 2-1 victory, advancing to the championship game on Saturday evening at Pottsville.
Repella's first netter came in the 15th minute of the first half. He dribbled the ball into the right side of the Olympians' zone, sending a white bullet into the left side of the Thorpe goal.
Repella served as a defender for Schuylkill Haven for almost three quarters of their season, but coach Vanco Georgevic needed to add some goal scoring to his offensive lineup. Repella was just the kid for the job.
"In the last two weeks our team has really been coming along and that's a direct effect of us making some adjustments on offense," said Georgevic. "We needed someone to consistently score for us, so we pulled Marcus Repella out of defense and put him on offense. The move has worked out great and he certainly has become our go to guy."
Jim Thorpe didn't really challenge the Schuylkill Haven defense at all in the first half and coach JT Tony Dixon credited the Haven club for their defensive effort.
"They really had a strong defense tonight," said Dixon. "They really did a good job of shutting our wingers down and they didn't allow us to get any runs on them even late in the game when we had everybody up."
Repella struck again in the second half with an even more impressive try than his first ripper. In the eighth minute he sent a whip from about 25 yards out that surprised everyone including the Jim Thorpe goalkeeper. The ball looked to be sailing high, but dipped down and into the back of the net, giving the 'Canes a 2-0 advantage.
Jim Thorpe climbed back within one when Steven Principe scored with a little over eight minutes remaining in the game. The Olympians couldn't get another solid look after that point and Schuylkill Haven escaped with a 2-1 victory.
Although Jim Thorpe's Schuylkill League championship hopes were thwarted, this year's squad has a lot to be proud of. It was the first divisional championship of any kind for the JT soccer program with their first place finish in Division 1.
"It's been a great season, it's been a fantastic experience all the way through," said Dixon. "The boys have just been brilliant and they put in the work to get us where we are this year. It's phenomenal what they've achieved, looking back just two years ago when we were 0-18. Everyone of these boys deserved this season, they really worked hard."
With the win Schuylkill Haven will now play Blue Mountain at Pottsville for the Schuylkill League Championship at 5 p.m. on Saturday.