Mark Stroney and Chris Scharff will be battling for the District 2 Class 2A championship tonight.
No, this is not an old article from 1999, 2000 or 2001, the last three times the two coaching icons squared off in the postseason.
The two, who have combined for nearly 500 career boys soccer wins, will be going head to head in the postseason for the fourth time as coaches when Tunkhannock meets Dallas at Lake-Lehman High School.
This time, Stroney, now with his third different team, leads Tunkhannock in its first district final ever. He is looking for his 11th district championship overall but first since winning in 1998 with Lake-Lehman.
If Stroney has had a nemesis it has been Scharff. That’s right, Stroney lost three district titles in a row to Scharff’s Dallas team after picking up gold No. 10. Stroney even lost the last two times the coaches faced off in the regular season, dropping matches to Dallas the last two seasons.
“That’s funny. Because you know what, Mark Stroney’s a great coach,” Scharff said after Tuesday’s semifinal win over Crestwood. “It’s great. It’s great for Tunkhannock’s program to be there. And Mark Stroney’s a class guy and a very good coach, very well-respected. So I couldn’t be happier for the matchup to be honest with you.”
Before Scharff became one of the top coaches in the Wyoming Valley Conference, he was having a stellar career as a player at Lake-Lehman. But during his playing days with the Black Knights, one team he had trouble with was Stroney’s Abington Heights team that won six consecutive District 2 Class 3A titles from 1984-89.
This time, Stroney is in his second season with a Tunkhannock team that was around mediocrity the two years before he took over and had just two wins in 2009.
“They brought the dinosaur back,” Stroney said after his Tigers defeated Valley View Tuesday afternoon to advance. “It makes me feel good in the sense that I try to tell the players that I’ve been in many, many district matches including winning 10 district finals. So I have that experience they don’t yet, and you have to just keep building that and have success.”
Scharff’s resume is just as impressive as Stroney’s.
He’s coaching in his seventh district title match and enters with four championships with his last coming in 2007 and his last finals appearance being in 2011.
The teams are meeting for the second time this season. The last time they squared off was earlier this month on Oct. 8 when the Mountaineers pulled out a 3-1 victory at home.
The difference in that match pitting Wyoming Valley Conference Division I champ Dallas vs. Division II titlist Tunkhannock is that Dallas’ A.J. Nardone, the division’s leading scorer picked up a pair of goals and an assist.
Meanwhile, the Tigers’ Aidan Cronin, the top scorer in all of the WVC, was held pointless.
Either way, it’s two programs from the conference battling for the gold medal, which is a good sign for soccer in the area because it means one local team will be going on to the state tournament and will be playing against the District 4 winner on Tuesday at Lake-Lehman.
“It’s two local teams,” Scharff said. “I didn’t want Valley View to be here. I don’t want Scranton Prep to be here. They’ve been beating us up a little here. I’m happy Tunkhannock’s here.”