NANTICOKE — A few years ago, it seemed like a once very respectable Nanticoke boys soccer program would take forever to get out of the basement.
The Trojans were sitting at the bottom of Division III of the Wyoming Valley Conference for two straight seasons in 2010 and 2011, when they combined to win just two matches and allowed nearly 200 goals in 31 games.
The turnaround is just about complete.
After finishing one win away from claiming the division title in 2012, Nanticoke is one win from claiming the championship with two matches left after a very physical 3-2 win over Pittston Area on Monday night.
“It’s something that we all needed. This program wasn’t very good a couple years ago and these teams that we’re playing now were pounding up on us. It feels good to finally get them back and finally take a stand against them,” said Nanticoke sophomore midfielder Ed Lukowski, who recorded a hat trick in the victory. “It’s just what this school needed to get some confidence in the sport.”
Nanticoke (10-3) faces MMI Prep (1-12) twice for its last two games in the regular season. Just one win will secure the program’s first division championship since winning the D-II title in 2008, and a spot in the District 2 Class 2A Tournament. Wyoming Area’s 8-4-2 mark in D-III is second; the Warriors lone game left in the regular season is against Berwick.
Pittston Area, meanwhile drops to 6-8-1 in Division II with one game left on its schedule, but a berth in the District 2 Class 3A Tournament is already secured. The team closes out its regular season this afternoon with the conclusion of a suspended game with Hazleton Area.
On Monday night, the Patriots came out in charge and took a 1-0 lead on Jordan Consagra’s 15th goal of the season with 20:53 left in the first half.
But once that happened, a charge overcame the Trojans.
“They picked up their level of play,” Trojans coach Mark Matusek said. “They knew they had to get the goal back. They didn’t hang their heads. I’m really happy with the way they came back and played with all the intensity they had.”
They sure did get intense.
Lukowski scored a pair of goals later in the first half as Nanticoke’s offense pounded out nine shots on goal in the first half after Consagra’s tally.
Lukowski’s first score came with 17:39 on the clock in the first half when he broke through PA defenders and struck goal. His second came with 14:05 remaining when he got past the defense again then lured Patriots’ keeper Colin Tracy out of the net and beat him for the tally.
Midway through the second half, he nailed a penalty kick putting the Trojans ahead 3-1 with 23:05 left. It was Lukowski’s fourth game with two or more goals in a game this season after he missed the first two weeks with an injury; he now has a D-III-leading 17 goals.
Pittston Area’s Matt Tavaglione got the score to within one with 19:46 left, but Nanticoke’s defense held off the Patriots’ charge to secure the victory.
“Every time we play them it’s a very physical, tough game and it’s almost like a rivalry. It’s always a tough game,” Matusek noted. “This was a good win for us.”
Coughlin 2, Wyo. Val. West 2, 2OT
Mike Bazadona scored two second-half goals off assists from Mike Tandoh as Valley West tied Coughlin.
Tom Sebia scored twice in the first half for Coughlin. Dave Marriggi assisted both goals.
Berwick 3, Meyers 2
The Bulldogs’ Eric Varner broke a tie with a game-winning goal in the 42nd minute to defeat the Mohawks. Varner finished with two goals, and Josh Maron added a score.
David Nargoski and Derek Sosa each found the net for the Mohawks.
Wyo. Seminary 9, GAR 1
Andriy Molchanov had a hat trick in the first 40 minutes to lead the Blue Knights. Eduardo Laguna added two goals and two assists. Gabriel Pascal also produced a goal.
GAR received a goal from Leizer Mero.
Nanticoke 3, Pittston Area 2
First half — 1. PA, Jordan Consagra 20:53; 2. NAN, Ed Lukowski 17:39; 3. NAN, Lukowski 14:05. Second half — 1. NAN, Lukowski (penalty kick) 23:05; 2. PA, Matt Tavaglione 19:46.
Shots — PA 14; NAN 20. Saves — PA 10 (Colin Tracy); NAN 10 (Carmelo Pioquinto). Corner kicks — PA 3; NAN 4.
Berwick 3, Meyers
First half — 1. BER, Josh Maron (Luke Henger), 7th minute; 2. MEY, David Nargoski (Tim Snyder), 13th; 3. MEY, Derek Sosa, 15th; 4. BER, Eric Varner (Wilfredo Cruz), 23rd. Second half — 5. BER, Varner (Adam Trivelpiece), 42nd.
Shots — MEY 40; BER 15. Saves — MEY 9 (Adam Casey); BER 26 (Morgan Broyan). Corner kicks — MEY 7; BER 5
Wyo. Seminary 9, GAR 1
First half — 1. SEM, Andriy Molchanov (Andrew Kim), 8th minute; 2. SEM, Molchanov, 18th; 3. GAR, Leizer Mero (Jesus Tlatenchi), 29th; 4. SEM, Eduadro Laguna, 36th; 5. SEM, Molchanov, 40th. Second half — 6. SEM, Laguna (Malcolm Lumia), 44th; 7. SEM, Jonathan Roberge (Laguna), 48th; 8. SEM, Gabriel Pascal (Laguna), 55th; 9. SEM, Connor Evans, 63rd; 10. SEM, Sujay Murthy (Diederick Reitsma), 71st
Shots — GAR 6; SEM 23. Saves — GAR 7 (Tino Altavilla); SEM 4 (Will Kozar). Corner kicks — GAR 1; SEM 6.
Coughlin 2, Wyo. Valley West 2, 2OT
Wyo. Valley West`0`2`0`0`—`2
First half — 1. COU, Tom Sebia (Dave Marriggi), 7th minute; 2. COU, Sebia (Marriggi), 11th; Second half
— 3. WVW, Mike Bazadona (Mike Tandoh), 48th; 4. WVW, Bazadona (Tandoh), 72nd.
Shots — WVW 9, COU 14. Saves —WVW 6 (Mitch Evan), COU 6 (Steve Johnson). Corner kicks — WVW 3, COU 8.