To say our local teams made a splash in Tri-Valley League boys soccer action this year would be an understatement.
From the league hail TVL and District 4 champion East Juniata, and District 3 champion Greenwood. For East Juniata, it was the fourth year in a row to win both titles. Both teams also made a run in the state tournament.
From the individual players' standpoint, the local boys also made a great showing in the TVL all-star list. Fifteen of the 23 all-star spots were filled by players from either East Juniata, Greenwood or Juniata. East Juniata's senior Spencer Reinford was named most valuable player.
"He had a great year for us, no question," East Juniata coach Don Troutman said of Reinford.
Reinford was a versatile player - able to play both offensive and defensive positions - and this proved an irreplaceable asset to the Tigers.
"I think the fact that we could move Spencer from the back to the front definitely was a huge plus for us. The versatility that he provided and his ball skills up top made him dangerous. He passed the ball well when he was double-teamed, so that made him dangerous too," Troutman said.
Reinford ended the season with 10 goals and four assists - an impressive feat for an athlete who spent at least half of his time on defense - and he was also part of the East Juniata defense which only allowed four goals in fourteen TVL games.
Bailey Coder and Hunter Gingrich, both voted first-team, were the other two players who helped anchor the Tigers' defense.
"Bailey was just a foundation back there," Troutman said, citing Coder's excellent communication on the field as one asset he brought to the team.
Gingrich, the last athlete in the back, also brought his own skill set to the field. Like Reinford, Gingrich could play on either defense or offense, and when he was moved upfield he had a kick to be reckoned with.
"Hunter has probably the hardest shot that I've seen in a high school young man," Troutman said. "He can strike the ball with tremendous strength with his left foot."
Up the field for the Tigers, Landon Sheaffer took first-team striker, Devin Goodling and Ben Auker took first-team midfielders and Nick Lorenz rounded it out for East Juniata with second-team midfielder.
Sheaffer led his team in TVL scoring with 19 goals, and with both he and Goodling, if they weren't scoring goals themselves, they were setting up someone else.
"They understand the game so well, they see the field so well," Troutman said of the two.
Auker and Lorenz were also strong forces on the pitch.
"We basically controlled the midfield this season every game because of Nick and Benny (Ben Auker)," Troutman said.
Of East Juniata's seven all-stars, all but Lorenz and Coder were seniors, and Troutman couldn't have been more complimentary of the way this year's graduating class performed not only this season, but for the past four year.
"It's hard to put into words what that group of seniors provided, but I think that the four district championships says a whole lot," he said. "The stability that they brought, particularly in their junior and senior year, was just something that helped us maintain the level of play that we had throughout those four years."
Troutman said Reinford, Sheaffer and Goodling plan to play in college. Gingrich and Auker are also possibilities.
In Perry County, TVL second-place team Greenwood also had a strong presence on the all-star list. Sporting six all-star selections, Greenwood led the TVL in scoring - outpacing East Juniata 96-79 - and with its 5-2 loss to Mountain View in the seminfinals of the state tournament, made it farther into the state bracket than any other TVL team.
Leading the way for Greenwood was senior Josh Ferguson.
At first-team striker, Ferguson had an outstanding year, setting both school and league records with his 35 goals.
Ferguson was complimented by second-team striker Jarrett Fortenbaugh. A formidable duo, Ferguson and Fortenbaugh had great scoring potential, and this year Fortenbaugh set the TVL record for assists with 24.
"That duo worked very well together," Greenwood coach Tom Magill said. "I know a number of assists that Jarrett got were to Josh."
Magill also pointed out that these records were set during this year's 14-game rotation, verses the 16-game TVL schedule of years past.
On the defensive end, Greenwood also had a first-team selection in keeper Ryan Kerstetter, whose 36 saves to 6 goals allowed in league action placed him among the best of the TVL.
"He was a good leader for us, and a good example for the younger kids," Magill said.
Rounding out Greenwood's all-star selections were second-team backs Roy Miller and Scott Kerstetter, and second-team midfielder Alex Potter.
Magill said Scott Kerstetter's speed, which allowed him to break up a lot of plays, and Miller's hard-nosed style of defense made the two seniors a great team in the back.
"We'll be missing those guys and their hard-nosed defending."
Potter, another senior, will also be missed for his resiliency on the field, and a throw in which could wreak havoc on the other team.
"For a guy who's not really that big, he had a great throw in. And that created problems for the other teams sometimes," Magill said.
Reflecting on this year's team of all-star seniors, which included everyone but Fortenbaugh, Magill mentioned how much the class would be missed.
"We scored more than 100 goals (counting the post-season) for the first time in our soccer history, so this group is obviously going to be missed not only from a leadership standpoint, but from a skills standpoint. They set the bar high."
Closing it out for the local TVL all-stars are two juniors from Juniata. Jose Lopez made second-team midfielder, and his 10 goals for the season placed him within the top ten scorers in the league.
Lopez was accompanied by teammate Nick Gilbert, who also made second-team midfielder.
With one more year ahead, both Gilbert and Lopez can be expected to be key players in Juniata's efforts during the 2013 season.