The Lewisburg Derby is a game entrenched in historical and political significance for the town, located in central Pennsylvania. One soccer team represents West Lewisburg, an area of the town that is known to be largely liberal and is constantly pushing for new progressive policies. The other side, North Lewisburg, is an area of the town known to have a staunch Republican view that is often directly attributed to its highly affluent population. With these opposing beliefs, one can only imagine the atmosphere of the stadium before the game. For many of those that attended last year, it is hard to forget the West Lewisburg ultras raiding the pitch at the final whistle to create what some called a malicious tunnel for their players only. With that in mind, there will certainly be security stewards to divide the two groups of fans at this year’s Derby
Leading up to the game, I was able to speak with the North Lewisburg coach, who was highly anxious as his team sat below West Lewisburg in the league table. The gaffer, who is beginning to get a little bit of stick from the fans for some of his team’s most recent results stated, “The magnitude of the game is huge and it’s having an impact on the players during training”. This sentiment was echoed by a number of players, particularly from North Lewisburg born Eva Williams. Her remark at the press conference alluded to the fact that training was a bit more intense during the week in preparation for the game. She added that the game is important to her, while explaining this is a game she’s dreamed about playing in since birth.
There was an electric atmosphere on match day with both sets of ultras congregating near the parking lot of the stadium. There was a bit of banter between fans, although West Lewisburg and North Lewisburg ultra-leaders chaperoned their respective followers to the stadium in collegial fashion. It was finally time for the game. The beginning stages of the game saw West Lewisburg display their trademark pragmatic approach with the coach instructing his players to sit in and allow North Lewisburg to have possession for the first 10 minutes or so. This was an interesting approach from the manager as North Lewisburg’s game is typified by incisive passes and fluid movement off the ball in attempts to slip in behind and score. Nonetheless, a disciplined West Lewisburg did not concede in the first period.
The second period saw the breakthrough with North Lewisburg’s Emma making a marauding run down the middle of the pitch showcasing her ability to penetrate and score. West Lewisburg showed spirit and initiative shortly thereafter, testing keeper Madeline. The hectic pace of the game started to slow around the 18 minute mark as North Lewisburg captivatied the crowd with their passing. A vibrant run inside the shoulder of the left back from Liana “Foot” Davis created space in the right-hand channel for defensive midfielder Bailey to assume. A crafty pass from North Lewisburgian Ava found Bailey in stride and resulted in a rather clinical finish from the Irish woman.
The third period started with West Lewisburg abandoning their original strategy, changing to a more attack-minded formation. At this point in the game, the North Lewisburg coach instructed his players to press high up the field in order to gain possession in the opposition’s final third. As a result, West Lewisburg’s scarcity of technical ability was exposed with “Foot” scoring a brace. The fourth period saw a discouraged West Lewisburg fall into deep disarray. Julia was in fine-form, always causing a problem with her bag of tricks and Olivia stymie West Lewisburg attacks. It was a great all-around team effort, with “Foot” named woman of the match, primarily due to her predatory instincts that at one point in the game saw her dispossess her own teammate in an attempt to complete a hat-trick. The referee signaled the end of the game with a whistle and post-match activities commenced. These largely consisted of orange slices and obligatory handshakes. Thus ends the 6 year-old Lewisburg girls’ soccer match of the year.