GREENCASTLE – The wait is over for the Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers boys soccer team.
The Blazers dominated the early years of Mason-Dixon Christian Conference soccer in the 1980s and 1990s, but they hadn’t won an MDCC boys soccer title since 1995.
Until Saturday night, that is. The Blazers defeated Calvary Christian 3-0 in the MDCC championship game at Greencastle-Antrim High School, ending their 24-year title drought.
The victory was well earned for the 14-6-1 Blazers, who kept top-seeded Calvary frustrated for much of the evening. Although Calvary had nine corner kicks to the Blazers’ three, the Blazer defense and goalkeeper Jack Gabler turned away the Eagles’ threats, and the Blazers basically controlled the midfield area.
On offense, senior Kenneth Hott and sophomore Max Crawford combined for all three goals, with Crawford getting the first hat trick of his career and earning tournament most valuable player honors. Hott’s three assists pushed him over 100 assists for his career.
“This gives Kenneth 117 goals and 101 assists (for his career),” Blazers coach Stan Hott said. “He is only the second player to have done this in Pennsylvania history.”
Troy Snyder (1983 Fleetwood High School) had 208 goals and 117 assists during his career.
Not quite midway through the first half, Hott sent a cross from the right side to Crawford, who booted it into the net for a 1-0 lead that stood for the rest of the half.
Calvary, which went 12-0 in the MDCC during the regular season, came out with some energy to start the second half. The Blazers, however, took advantage of their first opportunity in the latter half when Crawford found the net after Hott’s shot was turned away by the Calvary goaltender.
Later in the half, Hott’s shot barely missed the far right post, but Crawford, who came into the game with four goals for the season, was again the man in the right spot, directing the ball into the net and giving the Blazers the three-goal margin.
All that was left was for Gabler to finish the shutout, which he did while registering 20 saves, and the Blazers to celebrate their long-awaited championship.
“The team came together and finished what last year’s team started,” Stan Hott said. “We had some big accomplishments tonight.”
Last year’s team took the No. 1 seed into the MDCC playoffs but dropped a 4-1 decision to second-seeded Calvary in the championship game. This time it was payback for the second-seeded Blazers, who turned things around with their three-goal victory.
For the Blazers, Hott, Gabler and Josh Rowe joined Crawford on the all-tournament team.
Hott, midfielder Elijah Randolph and defenseman Caleb Eckert were named to the MDCC first team for the regular season, and Rowe and Gabler were named to the second team.
The Blazers will conclude their season in the NACA tournament in Dayton, Tenn., this week.