KINGSTON — Walking past Wyoming Seminary’s Nesbitt Memorial Stadium on Wednesday night, it would have been easy to think that Holy Redeemer was holding an intrasquad scrimmage.
That’s because the Wyoming Valley Conference boys and girls Senior Classic All-Star games were held with the players donning red and gold jerseys, Redeemer’s school colors.
In a touching gesture, the teams wore the school’s colors in honor of Lauren Higgs, who played soccer for the Royals’ girls team this season and died during the season. The teams also wore Higgs’ initials and her No. 19 on the arm of each jersey.
“In my opinion, the soccer community is very close and it’s good to be tight-knit whether you’re on opposing teams or the same team — to have that soccer family, boys or girls — and we always need to be supporting other teams,” said Coughlin boys coach Rob Havard, who coached the boys Red Team to a 1-1 win, 4-3 on penalty kicks, in the first game of the doubleheader.
“During the season it’s a battle, but realistically when all is said and done we’re all here for the betterment of the game and whatever we could do to help someone and honor their memory is great.”
While the boys game was an unusually low score for the top seniors from the Wyoming Valley Conference, the girls game picked up the slack.
By the time the girls contest was seven minutes old, it had already matched the score from the boys game. The Pittston Area girls shined in the nightcap as Maddy Mimnaugh scored twice and Sam Mayers added one as the Gold Team topped the Red Team 7-4. Not a score that looked attainable after such a low-scoring boys match prior.
“I guess there was all the best seniors in the league,” Mayers said.
Fittingly, the first goal of the girls game was scored by one of Higgs’ Holy Redeemer’s teammates, Lydia Lawson, to put Red ahead 1-0. A few minutes later, Red keeper Gabby Tomasura, also from Holy Redeemer, made the first save of the game.
“I think it was really nice that they had a thing to remember her,” Mayers said. A moment of silence was held prior to each game.
The Red Team took a 3-2 lead into halftime, and the match was tied 4-4 after Coughlin’s Emma Sukowaski scored her second of the match for Red, but a fast flurry of goals in the second half put the game away in favor of the Gold.
Hanover Area’s Alyssa Koneski and Dallas’ Ruby Mattson found the back of the net sandwiched around Mayers’ tally as the three were scored in a span of less than five minutes.
“I actually thought the other team was going to be better, so I guess they underestimated us,” Mayers said.
In the opener, Valley West’s Mike Bazadona, who led the WVC in goals this season, gave the Gold Team the lead with 34:03 remaining.
Approximately 15 minutes later, Coughlin’s Henry Sanchez equalized. Sanchez and his Crusader teammate Juan Mendoza nailed the last two penalty kicks that sailed into the net to give the Red Team the victory.
Boys WVC Senior Classic
Red 1, Gold 1
(Red wins on penalty kicks 4-3)
Second half — 1. GOLD, Mike Bazadona, Wyoming Valley West 34:03; 2. RED, Henry Sanchez, Coughlin 19:48.
Penalty kicks made — GOLD, Bazadona; Christian Kimmerle, Dallas; R.J. Kresge, Crestwood. RED, Tanner MacDougall, Lake-Lehman; Packie Cronin, Tunkhannock; Junior Martinez, Coughlin; Juan Mendoza, Coughlin
Shots — Gold 13; Red 15. Saves — Gold 9 (Lance Lysiak, Crestwood; Kyle Hall, Wyoming Seminary); Red 8 (Steve Johnson, Coughlin; David Torres, Meyers; T.J. Jankouskas, MMI Prep). Corner kicks — Gold 3; Red 6.
Girls WVC Senior Classic
Gold 7, Red 4
First half — 1. RED, Lydia Lawson, Holy Redeemer 40:40; 2. GOLD, Maddy Mimnaugh, Pittston Area 38:14; 3. GOLD, Mimnaugh 21:10; 4. RED, Emma Sukowaski, Coughlin 3:09; 5. RED, Mary Tona, Coughlin 1:55. Second half — 1. GOLD, Tiffany Zukosky, Dallas 42:37; 2. GOLD, Amelia Hossage, Hanover Area 37:21; 3. RED, Sukowaski 34:39; 4. GOLD, Alyssa Koneski, Hanover Area 27:23; 5. GOLD, Samantha Mayers, Pittston Area 24:29; 6. GOLD, Ruby Mattson, Dallas 22:59
Shots — Gold 24; Red 21. Saves — Gold 6 (McKenna Mera, Crestwood); Red 10 (Gabby Tomasura, Holy Redeemer). Corner kicks — Gold 7; Red 1.
Reach Dave Rosengrant at 570-991-6398 or on Twitter @tldrosengrant