Lewisburg, Pa. – Once news spread that the spring high school sports season would be cancelled, Lewisburg Area High School's Ben Kettlewell started to set up meetings with his fellow soccer players.
All the offseason work will culminate Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. when Lewisburg takes on District 7 Champion Deer Lakes in the Class AA Boys Soccer State Championship.
Preparation began and players immediately bought into it as a team loaded with seniors got ready for the nearly eight-month journey. Kettlewell kept everyone on track. Players were eating right and taking care of themselves.
The season might have opened with a slight delay, but Lewisburg was ready as it dominated the regular season.
“There certainly is a lot,” Senior Captain Ben Liscum said of the attention to detail. “I can remember sitting down at the Zoom meeting eight months ago and talking about goals. It’s more than just the last couple months. It’s more than however many games we’ve played so far. It’s about those summer workouts and getting the good grades in the classroom. There’s just a lot of aspects that go into it.”
Lewisburg has won 21 consecutive games. Tomorrow they could move into a rare class of undefeated, cover-to-cover State Champions. It would be the perfect way for a special class of seniors to cap a remarkable four-year run.
Liscum has grown up around soccer, but more importantly he’s grown up with his teammates. They’ve all developed together on the field. They’ve practiced together, worked together, and won and lost together.
“A lot of us have played with each other since we were little,” Liscum said. “Me and Anthony Bhangdia have been friends since birth. Our families have been close. A lot of us fell in love with the game at four and five playing club together. We get to this stage and it’s just really special to play with the guys you grew up with.”
Standing in the way of a perfect season is District 7 Champion Deer Lakes, which has reached the PIAA Class AA Championship for a second time in three years. Lewisburg certainly brings PIAA experience with multiple appearances and a championship over the last four years.
Lewisburg has attacked the opposition in waves this year with nearly two teams' worth of starters. Saturday will be no different. The Green Dragons have called on nearly the entire team throughout its postseason run.
“What’s special about it is it’s not just one guy driving the train,” Liscum said. “We got 17 or 18 guys on the field in the District final. I don’t know very many teams that are able to do that.”
Despite not being challenged much in the regular season, Lewisburg’s level of play never seemed to waver. They continued at a high pace, beating teams 10-0 and resetting for the next challenge without a blink.
“It’s our mentality,” Liscum said. “We are 0-0. We enjoyed the District title then we got our bodies ready for this. That 0-0 mentality and our ultimate goal of being in Hershey, it’s just the unselfishness. It’s not about one individual, it’s about the collective.”