With both the boys and girls soccer seasons in the fall for the first time this year, the 32nd Annual Lions All-Star Soccer Classic was played nearly six months after the final kick for many of these local high school area players.
The Mountain Valley Conference/Colonial League boys gave up three goals in losing 3-0 to the Lehigh Valley Conference all-stars. The girls teams tied 2-2 in a rain shortened game. Both games were played last Sunday afternoon at Whitehall High School.
With the long layoff since the last time these players stepped on a soccer field, it was expected that there would be some rust. And most of the players have never played with their teammates before, except for on opposing ends.
For the first fifteen minutes the teams tested each other out and just tried to get back into the flow of soccer.
In the 17th minute, two Emmaus Green Hornets connected on a nice aerial pass down the sidelines. Ben Rhoda chipped a ball over the defense to a running AJ Bishop. Bishop eluded two defenders and laid off a pass to Parkland's Nick Hutchinson who ripped a shot into the back of the net for the first goal of the game.
Rhoda got his name onto the score sheet just a little over two minutes later.
Starting in the back of the defense was Pleasant Valley duo Jack Wathen and Chris Skutnik. The two were the backbone to the Bears defense during the 2012 season.
"It was a good way to go out," said Wathen, who will not be playing soccer collegiately. "That's exactly how the regular season was. I played at right back and Chris played center. It was just like it was playing in the fall."
In the second half, Baidy Ba from Freedom stole an attempted back pass to the goalkeeper, and took one quick dribble to elude the goalie and put away the third and final goal.
The MVC/Colonial team had their chances, but could not capitalize. Team offensive MVP Jordan Ellison of Stroudsburg saw a couple of shots get saved into the hands of the LVC goaltenders.
Other notable area players that competed include Wathen and Skutnik's teammate Haris Sabovic, and Northern Lehigh's Tyler Hoppes.
"It was fun getting to play alongside Chris again, and it was good to be out with all of these guys," noted Wathen. "They're all great athletes and soccer players. It was fun being out here and I'm definitely going to miss it. It is a good way to go out though."
In the girls game, the scoring was higher and at a quicker pace. In the fifth minute Pleasant Valley's Maria Cimino ripped a shot off the crossbar that just stayed out of the net. Just two minutes later, Callie Duliba of Palisades snuck a low shot under the legs of the LVC goalie Victoria Ruvolis for the first goal of the game.
Lightning forced a 45 minute delay at the end of the first half. With just a 20 minute shortened second half, the teams combined for three goals.
Whitehall's Kayla Cunningham tallied her first eight minutes in. Dianna Connor of Pleasant Valley brought her team back into the lead with a ten yard strike. But Cunningham, playing on her home turf, didn't want to go down with a loss in her last career high school game at Zephyr stadium. She leveled the score with just two minutes to play, and the teams ended at a 2-2 draw.