Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

December 2, 2013

Mountain Ridge voted area champion

Miners claim sixth boys soccer title in seven seasons

FROSTBURG — The Mountain Ridge Miners stormed through the season and left a distinct mark on the area high school boys soccer season.

That’s typical, and just about expected on an annual basis. So there’s not much surprise when the Miners add another Times-News area championship trophy to the school’s growing collection.

Coach Tim Nightengale’s team did just that, again, being voted unanimous area champion. It’s the school’s sixth boys soccer area championship in seven years.

The area soccer championship trophy is sponsored annually by J.R.’s Custom Screen Printing and Embroidery, of Frostburg.

“The team set goals at the beginning of the season to focus on winning championships one game at a time,’’ said Nightengale, who has coached 12 teams to area championships over the last 13 years. “Our three captains — Brandon Shockey, Patrick Kimble and Canyon Lohnas — led the team by example and pushed their teammates every practice to work hard to achieve their goals. They took it personal about establishing themselves as the top team in the area.”

Mountain Ridge went 8-5-2 and had a five-year run as area champion snapped last year by Allegany. While 8-5-2 was certainly a successful season, it wasn’t what the Miners had been accustomed to. So this year they began things with an eight-game unbeaten streak (6-0-2) and finished the regular season 11-1-2. The only loss was to Williamsport, 2-1, and the ties were with Preston, 1-1, and Northern, 1-1.

The Miners wrestled the area championship away from the defending champion Campers and went 4-0 against the City League co-champs, beating Allegany 2-0 and 3-0 and Fort Hill 2-1 and 3-0. They avenged the early tie with Northern with a convincing 5-1 win late in the year.

“Playing the top teams in the area added motivation for us. The guys had something to prove and elevated their play especially in those games,’’ said Nightengale. “The preparation and pre-game motivationals carried over to their play on the field. After our final area game between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams (a 3-0 win over Allegany), the boys made a statement with the win and created their legacy as area champions.”

Mountain Ridge, which ended up 11-2-2 after a playoff loss to Middletown, went unbeaten against area teams (9-0-1) and was 6-0-1 against teams ranked in the final area poll.

For the 15-game season, the Miners scored 41 goals and allowed only 11. The defense had eight shutouts and gave up only eight goals during the regular season.

Fifteen players had a goal or an assist. Kimble led the team, and was seventh in the area, in scoring with nine goals and two assists in 11 games for a 1.81 average. Dylan Shimko was 13th with seven goals and five assists in 15 games for a 1.26 average, and Tyler Sisler 17th with six goals and three assists for a 1.00 average.

“We were able to step on the field each game with confidence and know that if we played to our potential we would be successful,’’ said Nightengale. “Our strength was our depth. We had 26 players on this year’s team and that allowed the players to challenge each other in practice, making our team stronger.

“We were balanced with our talent. Opponents were not able to key on just one player because we had multiple weapons. We always put extra emphasis on our set plays from kicks and throws and  want to be able to capitalize on them when we get those scoring opportunities. Our coaching staff of Stuart Sommers and Rocky Reed did a great job of motivating and preparing the boys to perform on the field.”

The Miners won the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference with a 6-0-1 record, scoring 25 goals and allowing just three. Shimko was fourth in the league in scoring with five goals and two assists in the seven games for a 1.71 average.

The defense and goalkeeper Jake Hafer were the best in the area and AMAC. Overall, Hafer made 77 saves and allowed nine goals for an .895 save percentage. In league play, he made 26 saves, allowed one goal and had a .962 percentage.

The Miners season ended with a 3-1 playoff loss to Middletown in Mountain Ridge’s first season in Class 2A.

“We faced a new challenge entering Class 2A. We knew this would be a whole new test but were prepared to accept the challenge,’’ Nightengale said. “We scheduled a strong preseason, as we always have, kept Williamsport and added Clear Spring to our schedule to prepare for a strong 2A field. Drawing perennial power Middletown in the playoffs was a good start for us. We had seen them play and felt we could not only compete but if we played our best soccer, we could win. We were on the doorstep of getting our first 2A win, ahead 1-0, but were not able to maintain our play for 80 minutes and lost.

“This team paved the way for future teams by showing what it takes to get where they got and now next year’s team needs to work harder to get to the next level.”

Mike Mathews is a Cumberland Times-News sportswriter. Write to him at mmathews@times-news.com

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