Justin Okun of Coughlin (left) and Brandon Harding of Dallas battle during a recent WVC Division I match. The Crusaders, Mountaineers and seven other WVC teams will begin their quest for a district championship this afternoon.PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER
For years, Dallas has won several games thanks to a stingy defense under coach Chris Scharff.
That remained true again this season as the team went 11-2-1 and only allowed 14 goals.
The Mountaineers begin their quest for a District 2 Class 2A championship this afternoon when they host Scranton Prep in a rematch of the 2007 district title game won by Dallas. A win and they will possibly have to face a 13-1 Abington Heights team.
“Whoever they put in front of you, you have to beat and if you don’t you don’t deserve it anyway,” Scharff said in regards to the tough bracket. “We try to treat them like they’re all great teams and we also like the competition. So whoever we play we play.”
The Mountaineers are one of nine Wyoming Valley Conference teams which will be taking part in the district tournament; six of those teams begin play today.
Unlike 2007, when the Mountaineers claimed their last district title under Scharff, both teams that advance to the Class 2A district title game on Nov. 5 will move on to the first round of PIAA Championships on Nov. 10. The winner will host a game in the state tournament, while the runner-up will go on the road.
“I like that because usually in our area we have two quality teams that will represent the area in a good way,” Scharff said. “Obviously you want to win the district title, but it gives you something else to shoot for.”
Here’s a closer look at the WVC teams competing in the district tournament:
The Favorite: Holy Cross
The Dark Horse: Wyoming Seminary
Prediction: Holy Cross over Hanover Area
Coach: John Nealon, 2nd season
Top Scorers: Ryan Thomas (6G, 9A), Matt Lukachinsky (20G, 6A), Austin Bogart (15G, 11A)
The Skinny: The Hawkeyes are looking for their first district championship this decade. They will begin that quest with an opening round match hosting Lakeland this afternoon at 3:30.
Coach: Charles Carrick, 3rd season
Top Scorers: Austin Shin (3G, 1A), Matt Smith (2G), Michael Sochor (2G), Dan Nelson (1G, 1A)
The Skinny: The Blue Knights have struggled for the second straight regular season, but come the postseason they are always right there. This season should be the same. They open with a home game against Forest City at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. They are in search of their first district title since 2002.
The Favorite: Coughlin
The Dark Horse: Lake-Lehman
Prediction: Coughlin over Abington Heights
Coach: Rob Havard, 4th season
Record: 13-0-1 (WVC D-I Champion)
Top Scorers: Mike Turner (21G, 14A), Brian Suchoski (31G, 6A), Jordan Okun (6G, 10A), Jake Karavitch (2G, 17A)
The Skinny: The Crusaders have lost to the eventual district champion in three of the last four years and had an early exit last year after losing to Valley View. The team is hungrier than ever and wants the title. Their quest begins this afternoon with a home match against Pittston Area (12-4).
Coach: Pasquale Calabrese, 8th season
Top Scorers: Nick DeSpirito (10G, 11A), Kevin Kupris (12G, 7A), A.J. Krysicki (6G, 1A), Jim Moran (2G, 4A)
The Skinny: The Comets are back in the tournament after missing out last season. They will travel to face the other Comets, Abington Heights (13-1), in opening round action this afternoon.
Coach: Chris Scharff, 12th season
Top Scorers: Erik Cannon (18G, 6A), Scott Webb (9G, 9A), Zach Dutter (6G, 6A), David Pierce (5G, 2A)
The Skinny: The Mountaineers’ have counted on defense as usual this season and that should be needed against a good Scranton Prep (10-3-1) squad this afternoon at Dallas. This is a rematch of the 2007 district title contest won by the Mountaineers.
Coach: Mike Kostrobala, 4th season
Record: 13-2-1 (WVC D-II Champion)
Top Scorers: Danny Precone (16G, 8A), Matt Bevan (13G, 14A), J.J. Karlowicz (9G, 7A), Chris Edkins (5G, 11A)
The Skinny: The Black Knights notched their first division championship since 1999 with a win last week over Pittston Area. Their first game will be a long trip to Western Wayne to face the Lackawanna Soccer League Division 2 champion. The Wildcats finished the regular season with an 11-1 record.
Coach: Pat O’Boyle, 1st season
Top Scorers: Danny Scatena (23G, 8A), Pietro Colella (15G, 7A), Mike Blasi (5G, 4A), Ian Tracy (3G, 5A)
The Skinny: The Patriots are making their first trip to the district tournament and it doesn’t get very easy as they have to face Coughlin at The Bog this afternoon.
The Favorite: Delaware Valley
The Dark Horse: Hazleton Area
Prediction: Wyoming Valley West over Delaware Valley
Coach: Dan Cunningham, 1st season, 3rd overall
Top Scorers: Alex Chacinski (3G, 2A), John Kurija (3G), Max Pozzessere (1G, 1A), Cruz Finnecum (2G, 1A)
The Skinny: For the second straight year, the Cougars will have to play the team from the other end of District 2. Delaware Valley (10-4) is a 134-mile round trip from Hazleton. This year, the Cougars will be hoping for a better result than last year’s 2-1 loss to the Warriors in the semifinals. The game will be held Monday with the location most likely at Wallenpaupack High School. The time has not been announced yet.
Coach: Aaron Littzi, 3rd season
Top Scorers: Joseph Schmid (40G, 7A), Nate Snedden (6G, 3A), Korbin Keene (4G, 7A), Badou Sanyang (2G, 4A)
The Skinny: The Spartans have been a mainstay in the district tournament. It seems like they qualify every year and are one of the favorites to claim the title every year. With Giorgi Mandqulashvili back from Russia to complement Joseph Schmid, WVW is the favorite to claim its third title in four years and fifth in 11 years. Valley West opens with Wallenpaupack (7-5-2) on Monday. The time and site are to be announced, but the contest will most likely be held at Lake-Lehman.