The District 4 boys and girls soccer playoffs start today with both the Class A and AA fields, but the field everyone's most waiting for very easily could be Saturday's quarterfinals on the girls' AA side, and there's four reasons why.
Montoursville. Selinsgrove. Danville. Warrior Run.
Perhaps the four best girls teams in District 4 and luckily for fans, they aren't going to wait to play one another and getting it over with right away with two huge games in Montoursville vs. Selinsgrove and Danville vs. Warrior Run.
Those four squads alone provide plenty of talent that will have area fans excited. Both Montoursville and Selinsgrove are schools with play makers. The Warriors have a nice core with Lana Spitler, Carley Mill, Kirsten O'Malley and Tayler Eshbach, all are capable of scoring for Montoursville, although Spitler is most likely the Warriors' leading scorer and most dangerous threat.
Selinsgrove has nice speed and a solid back line and offensively they're led by Jenna Fisher, who can be a threat at any time on the field. Fisher was a first-team HAC-I all-star forward last year and she has company with Alli Cover, a first-team HAC-I all-star back last year.
The one key difference between these two squads is goalie.
The Warriors' Ally Yocum has been solid for Montoursville this year, but she is replacing Audra Larson, who was a first-team HAC-I all-star last year. The Seals have Jess Lawton, maybe one of the most solid goalies on the girls side in the area, with the second-most saves (98).
Montoursville is the defending District 4 champion.
Yocum isn't the only one replacing a four-year starting goalie either in this postseason. Enter the Warrior Run girls where freshman Olivia George is stepping in to fulfill the role of Reda Vermilya.
Danville has Kiersten Zerbe (15 goals) and Siobhan Bross (7) leading the Ironmen's offense not only in scoring, but in assists as well, dishing out four and seven, respectively. Danville also has Casey Reber back.
While Zerbe and Bross are capable of scoring, Warrior Run has Taylor Landis on its side, who leads all area players in District 4 in goals (21) and isn't afraid to take shots when she has a good look.
Those two games may be the big ones on the slate, but you also have Lewisburg and Central Columbia squaring off and Midd-West taking on Athens. The Mustangs are under new coach Russ Goodling, but Goodling has his squad playing solid and looking to make a postseason run after losing last year in the quarterfinals to Troy
The Green Dragons have a solid team all around, led offensively by Emily Cole (17 goals) and Lauren Gargano (8), but goalie Sienna Fisher has been great for Lewisburg all season and makes head's up plays when danger is near.
The Midd-West girls aren't the only Mustangs squad in the playoffs, as the boys are in as well against a tough Shamokin team. The Indians biggest weapon is probably goalie Jon Deitrick, who is near the top of District 4 with 78 saves. However right up there with him is Midd-West's Austin Hockenbrock with 82. Neither Midd-West or Shamokin will have an easy time scoring.
While those two goalies are both near the top on the boys side, the hands down best all-around player easily could be Selinsgrove's David Aurand. He was The Daily Item's Preseason Player of the Year for a reason and Troy could be in for a tough test against Aurand and the Seals.
Selinsgrove ended its regular season by dropping its final two--with losses to Danville and Lewisburg--but coach Chris Lupolt doesn't think that will distract them.
"Hopefully it sparks a fire in our bellies to recover, but we can't take anything for granted and we've got to continue to work hard and improve," Lupolt said after Thursday's loss to Lewisburg.
While all those games occur on Wednesday or Saturday, today has one game that should be interesting and that's Galeton and East Juniata.
Galeton's came into this District 4 tournament seeded 14th, so it received no favors when it found out it had to go up against the three-time defending District 4 Class A champions in East Juniata.
The Tigers finished last year undefeated and made it to the quarterfinals of the PIAA field, and it's a safe assumption they'll want to attempt to repeat a PIAA run.
East Juniata's offense is led by Landon Sheaffer (17 goals), Nick Lorenz (8) and Spencer Reinford (7), a talented trio of players.
And despite losing the co-MVP of the Tri-Valley League last year in Tyler Inch, East Juniata's shown through the regular season it can keep moving forward and win.