ATHENS BOYS FALL TO JERSEY SHORE, 1-0, IN CLASS AAA SEMIFINALS
By: Tim Taylor | AthensWildcats.com | October 31, 2020 | Photo courtesy David Alliger
ATHENS — Jersey Shore erased the bitter taste of three consecutive PIAA
District 4 semifinal losses to Athens here Saturday afternoon, downing
the Wildcats, 1-0, in a Class AAA semi-final match-up.
It's the first time in five seasons the Wildcats will not play in the Class AAA championship game.
Bulldog sophomore Peyton Welshans notched the only goal of the game,
working a shot into the back of the net with 28:28 remaining in the
A brief defensive breakdown set up Welshans' shot as he would collect
the ball behind the defense and when Wildcat goalkeeper Asher Ellis came
out of goal to challenge, Welshans was able to find some space.
"I think throughout the season most of the goals that we had go in
against us probably were an overwhelming majority of our own small
mistakes, a bobble here or a PK is called there," Athens coach Jake
Lezak said. "I think one PK during the season was an actual PK."
Jersey Shore had an opportunity to increase its advantage on a penalty
kick with 13:11 remaining in the contest, but junior Connor Cornelius
couldn't convert t attempt. The Bulldogs were moving the ball in close,
but their player was taken down inside the box when Ellis came out of
goal to challenge the shot. The ball would head toward the open net, but
Athens' Landon Lantz would make an impressive save.
Still, that one goal would hold up despite the home team's attempts to knot things up.
The Wildcats moved the ball inside the 18 less than four minutes later,
but were unable to convert, then Tyler Chambers launched a long pass in
front of the JS goal about 1 1/2 minutes after that, but Athens again
came away empty.
It was the Wildcats who came up with the first threat of the second half
when Chambers took a pass and pushed the ball in close, but was denied a
shot at a score by the Bulldog senior Eli Reibson.
Nate Quinn followed less than two minutes later with a shot, but senior
goalkeeper Logan Bailey made the save. Daniel Horton tried to find a
route to the goal with about 12 minutes to go, but was turned away by
The Wildcats didn't give up in the waning moments of play as Quinn and Lantz both threatened in the final three minutes.
Athens controlled possession at the game's onset, but Jersey Shore would
sway the momentum in its favor about three minutes into the first half.
Still, the Bulldogs were unable to take advantage of potential scoring
opportunities in which they took the ball inside the 18 three times in a
"I think our defense played a really good game," Lezak said. "We got
unorganized in the first half and we made some adjustments in the second
Just past the midway point of the first half, Jersey Shore missed out on
another chance when a throw-in sailed over the intended recipient's
head and one-hopped into the arms of Ellis.
Ellis was solid in goal the entire half and the Wildcat defense helped the senior keeper maintain a 0-0 halftime deadlock.
Meanwhile, Athens took three shots in the first half and Bailey
collected his first save of the game on a low shot by James
Benninger-Jones midway through the 19th minute.
"It was tough for us offensively," Lezak said. "We've been working on it
all week, all season long. We didn't have what we've had in years past,
where we've had guys who were just scoring threats to every team. We
had guys that could put the ball in the back of the net, but it was
really tough for us, really tough for us all season to put the ball in
the net, and at this level you're not going to get many chances and we
didn't today. That's the way it is."
Jersey Shore (10-5-2) held a 10-9 edge in shots. Each team attempted four corner kicks and each keeper registered six saves.
Athens finishes the season with an 11-3 record and the praise of its coach.
"I think the guys had a great season," Lezak said. "You look at the
adversity they had to deal with all season and you look at all the
things that were changing. We lost a great center middie in Benny
Gambrell early on for the year and we adjusted, and definitely, the guys
made some plays.
"They did everything we asked them to. They truly defined what a team
was in every aspect of the game. There were no egos on the team.
you would have said, 'well who is your best player and who's all this,'
the guys would kind of look around and go 'he's really good and he's
really good,'" noted Lezak.
all kind of just pass that around and I think that's really important
for the younger guys to know that, to see that, that these guys just
really kind of exemplified what it is," added Lezak.
Athens finishes the season at 11-3.