By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
Selinsgrove coach Tom Garlock has found the confines of Sports Boosters Athletic Park in Middleburg to be as friendly as anywhere else the Seals have played this season.
The undefeated Seals (16-0) clinched a District 4 title over Lewisburg last Tuesday at Midd-West and return there to face Delaware Valley in the first round of the PIAA state tournament on Wednesday.
The Seals received stiff competition from the Green Dragons, pulling out a 9-6 victory against the lone team that was able to end a game within four goals of the Seals this season.
Throughout the season, the Seals have benefitted from solid play in all facets of the game, including standout sophomore Reid Betzker in net. With Betzker, the Seals have a goalie capable of shutting down the best that opposing teams have to offer without much worry.
The play of Betzker has allowed the offense, led by all-conference midfielder Austin Stroup, to take over. With the pace at which the Seals score, fans are likely to miss a goal if they turn away for a few seconds or make a run for the concession stand. In fact, the Green Dragons were the only team this season able to hold the Seals under 10 goals.
Garlock said following the title-clinching win over Lewisburg that the fight for a state berth would help the team moving forward and the Seals will face another quality opponent in District 2 champion, Delaware Valley.
The Warriors enter the state tournament at 18-2, after defeating Dallas, 10-6 in the district final. The Warriors have played a mix of schools in Pennsylvania and New York, with both losses coming against teams from New York.
One of these teams will lose its first game against a Pennsylvania school, as Delaware Valley is a perfect 14-0 versus Keystone state teams.
Lewisburg swept through the girls' tournament in District 4 to face Wyoming Seminary from District 2 in the opening round of the state tournament.
The Green Dragons use a balanced attack on offense, with multiple players capable of driving up the field and finding the back of the net. Hannah Gotoff led the Green Dragons in scoring in the semifinal against Midd-West while Sarah Talabiska and Jamie Ptacek grabbed the reins in the final against Danville.
In the district tournament, the Green Dragons showed an ability to turn the momentum in a game quickly, scoring four unanswered goals to end the half in the final. Quick goals will be important against a Blue Knights squad that frequently scores well into double digits.
In net for the Green Dragons will be senior Claire Paulsen. If there are some of you thinking that her last name sounds familiar, it should. The netminder's father is Bucknell basketball coach Dave Paulsen, and Claire has inherited some of her father's ability to lead the team to victory when it matters most. Paulsen made key saves down the stretch in the Green Dragons' semifinal victory over Midd-West to keep the Green Dragons ahead.
The Blue Knights, much like Selinsgrove in the boys' tournament enter state play undefeated following a 17-4 victory over Delaware Valley in the District 2 championship.