Strikers Have Big Day On Sunday, U14 Wins Pair, U12 Also Notches Win (04/24/17)

(By Matt Lerch)

Clarion River Valley Strikers U14 Sweep in Home Opener Double Header, Lerch Performs Hat Trick

The Clarion River Valley Strikers hosted Greenville and Mercer in their home opener at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium 0n Sunday, April 23rd  2017.  Both games ended with Clarion on top 4-1 and 4-3 respectively.

(Photos by Matt Lerch) Evelyn Lerch on her way to another Hat Trick afternoon

On a clear and warm sunny early spring day, the Strikers started the busy day by hosting an experienced Greenville soccer club.  Evelyn Lerch working as a forward up front notched her fourth career hat trick as a Clarion Striker.  Austin Coull added the fourth goal in the game to make it 4-1 at the finish.

The second game was a closer game, especially as the Clarion team had worn out legs against a physical Mercer team.  Clarion ended up winning the twin bill game 4-3 with heroics coming from many Strikers.  Austin Coull had the first goal with a 20 yard blast scoring up top over the goalie.  Coull then passed to Evelyn Lerch who kicked to the goal to be stopped by the Mercer goalie.  Logan Leadbetter found the rebound and punched in the second Clarion goal.  Midfielder Ryker Bingham crossed to wing Jordan Thompson, who then found Lerch crashing the goal for her first and only goal of the second game.

Clarion was led by Tyler Bingham in goal, who stopped 12 shots on goal during the second game.  Mercer made it 3-1.   U12 star defender Anna Gribik came off the bench to show her prowess as she slid a pass to charging winger Joyce “JK” Kim.  Kim made an unbelievable advance against three closing defenders shooting an impossible shot cross mouth to find the back of the net making it 4-1.  Mercer found 2 more goals to make it 4-3 Clarion but Clarion was able stave off the attack to win the double header in grand fashion.

Coach Kevin Griffin, a Clarion University senior, was pleased with his teams’ performance noting that now his team is 3-0 with 5 games left. Griffin in his third season coaching the Strikers, has the unique capability of verbally communicating every motion of the ball, enhancing Clarion players’ awareness of positioning and ball movement from upfield to downfield.  Of course, one of Clarion River Valley Strikers advantages with Griffin, as in the case with past coaches, is that his major is in Sports Management which encompasses coaching classes. Griffin sees the light at the end of the tunnel for the ultimate goal… a league championship.  Clarion travels to Titusville next Sunday, April 30th, to try to make their record 4-0.

Girl Power Propels Clarion River Valley Strikers U12 to Winning Opener

The Clarion River Valley Strikers U12 soccer team hosted Greenville at Clarion County Park Sunday April 23rd.  Under a clear sky and warm temperatures, the Strikers began their season with the home opener after receiving a “bye” during the first week.  Greenville returned to Clarion, hoping to shut out the Clarion team again as they had last fall.  The Strikers had a game plan to stop Greenville’s high-powered offense, with an unforgiving defense that would bolster the team to a 3-2 win over Greenville.

Gia Babington

The opening half started with a fast paced movement of the ball on both sides.  Center striker Ashton MacKinley with wings Gia Babington and Isaac Lerch made several attempts to penetrate Greenville’s defense but Greenville was successful at stopping them before entering the 18 foot box.  Lexi Coull and Colson Ritzert added attacking midfielder action, keeping Greenville off balance.  And then there was the incredible defense, led by aggressive defender Anna Gribik.  The defense was further reinforced with Blaise Cunningham and Alex Leadbetter.  Landon Smith minded the net for the first half.

For most of the first half the defense was strong on both sides, but then an opening occurred when right wing Mariah Beary found crashing midi Ritzert, who found the back of the net past the outstretched arms of the Greenville netminder.   Goalie Landon Smith made seven saves on net, one of which would be the game saver, with a rocket shot from Greenville’s center striker, that bounced up and off Smith’s hands over the goal.  Before the end of the half, the girl trifecta with a pass up field from Leadbetter to Coull to Babington for the score, made it 2-0 going into the half.

Anna Gribik

Lerch took goaltending duties while Smith came into the field with fresh legs.  Jason Megnin worked the wing passing to Ritzert, who dinged the right post.  Greenville wasn’t done trying, making a goal in the first five minutes of the first half.  As if Anna Gribik, the star defender hadn’t accomplished enough, she saw an opening dead center.  Defender Alex Leadbetter found Gribik, who showed her dominance by weaving through Greenville shooting from distance to make it 3-1.  Greenville answered with a goal to make it 3-2, but Clarion dug deep to keep Lerch from taking any more shots on goal.   Lerch ended up making five saves.

The U12 Strikers travel to Grove City to take on one of the top teams in the league Sunday April 30th.  Coaches Marina Kelly and Charlotte Allen, both Clarion University students and Clarion Women Golden Eagle Soccer Players, have a 1-0 record as new Strikers coaches.

As the season progresses, especially with the very competitive starting schedule, the coaches will have an experienced club team to take to new levels of competitiveness in the highly competitive PA West Lake Division.

(Thanks to Matt Lerch for this article. Good Going, Strikers!!!!)