KINGSTON — Over the last few seasons, Wyoming Valley West was one of those teams in Division I of the Wyoming Valley Conference that competitors saw as an easy victory and a chance to improve in the standings.
After three down seasons when the Spartans had just three wins against the top teams in the league, they appear to be back in contention.
Another example came on Tuesday night when WVW shut out Lake-Lehman 3-0 to improve its record to 4-1 and dropped the Black Knights, last year’s District 2 Class 2A runner-up, to 2-2-1.
More importantly, it was Valley West’s first victory over Lake-Lehman since 2006. Most of those seasons, the teams didn’t play each other since they were in different divisions. But the Black Knights had won the last four matches over the previous three seasons. Valley West’s only setback this season is a heart-breaking double-overtime loss to Dallas when the Mountaineers scored with mere seconds remaining on the clock.
“I think it’s a big statement to the league that we’re not to be underestimated,” Spartans coach Charlie Whited said. “I thought we played a very nice game against Dallas. To lose in double-overtime with one tick left on the clock … my goalie catches the ball and they said he fell into the net. I’ve had a really hard time with that. But the boys are really stepping it up.”
On Tuesday, Eddie Thomas and Nick Singer continued their big seasons. Thomas scored a pair of goals making it a league-leading 10 for the season, while Singer registered his WVC Division I-leading ninth assist.
Thomas got the scoring started when Lehman goalie Collin Masters came out of the net a little bit and Thomas struck the back of the net on the breakaway giving the Spartans a 1-0 lead at the 9:25 mark of the first half.
The lead was extended around the 10-minute mark of the second half when Singer crossed a pass to Thomas from about 35 yards away. Since the two have been playing together for about 10 years, Thomas knew exactly where the ball was going to be. He then headed it into the goal for a 2-0 lead with 30:45 left in the second half.
“We know where each other is on the field all the time,” Thomas said. “So it works out well. We normally feed each other the ball very well.”
The Black Knights had a few chances to get on the board. Perhaps the most notable opportunity came in the first half when a shot sailed near the net and Spartan keeper Derrick Denman flew through the air making a diving catch to keep Lehman out of the net.
“I always tell my keepers you have to make three big saves if you want to win a game and that was huge,” Whited added. “When he dove down here and made that play that was fantastic.”
The third goal of the game registered by the Spartans was an own goal with less than two minutes left in the game.
The Spartans defense also did a good job containing Lehman leading scorer Austin Harry, who couldn’t get any good shots off. Masters made five saves on the night for the Black Knights with each one being nearly as acrobatic as Denman’s diving catch in the losing effort.
Valley West gets another shot at an expected top team in the division on Friday afternoon when it hosts Coughlin.
Wyoming Valley West 3, Lake-Lehman 0
Wyoming Valley West`1`2`—`3
First half — 1. WVW, Eddie Thomas 9:25. Second half — 1. WVW, Thomas (Nick Singer), 30:45; 2. WVW, own goal.
Shots — LL 6; WVW 10. Saves — LL 5 (Collin Masters); WVW 5 (Derrick Denman). Corners kicks — LL 0; WVW 5.