VARDEN — Western Wayne came into Tuesday night's match in desperate need of a win.
The Wildcats were reeling from two straight razor-thin losses and Coach Matt Fitzsimmons sensed the season had reached a turning point for his boys.
"We lost a couple really close games and I think that was weighing on us pretty heavily," he said. "What we needed was an early lead and a little bit of momentum..."
To the delight of Varden fans, that's exactly what the 'Cats accomplished. Sam Hoch and Lucas Karnick gave Western Wayne a quick 2-0 lead against Paupack en route to an eventual 3-1 decision.
"I'm very happy with this win," Coach Fitzsimmons said. "It did a lot for the kids. The playoff picture is still pretty murky, but beating a team like Paupack definitely helps."
With this victory, Western Wayne upped its regular season record to 4-5-0.
Next on the agenda is a Thursday night trek to Milford for a battle with Delaware Valley. The Warriors currently boast an 8-1 mark and are all alone atop the Lackawanna League's Division Two standings.
On the Attack
Western Wayne's post season hopes appeared in serious jeopardy after two tough losses.
The 'Cats absorbed a gut-wrenching 1-0 setback to Valley View in double overtime. Then, less than 48 hours later, the local lads came out on the short end of a 2-1 final versus a much-improved West Scranton squad.
On Tuesday evening, Western Wayne's offense exploded against a normally suffocating Paupack defense. The 'Cats squeezed off just seven shots, but made the most of them.
Hoch fired the first salvo, hammering home an unassisted goal with just 4:57 gone in the opening half. A junior forward, Sam is quickly emerging as one of the division's top scoring threats.
"He's a very coachable kid and it shows," Coach Fitzsimmons said. "Sam has a great attitude and a great work ethic. He never gives up on a play and I'll bet he's gotten three or four goals this season just on pure effort."
Western Wayne was back on the attack before Paupack even had a chance to re-group.
This time it was Karnick who led the charge. Lucas scored the game's second unassisted goal less than a minute after Hoch. The shot came from 30 yards out and just eluded a sprawling Ryan Strong for a 2-0 lead.
"I'll tell you what: Lucas Karnick can score from just about anywhere on the field," Coach Fitzsimmons said. "He plays a very physical game. We actually want Lucas to shoot more because he's a little bit too unselfish."
Gillis made it 3-0 in the 15th minute. The junior striker is Western Wayne's top scorer this fall and he put the ball in the back of Paupack's net off an assist from teammate Kyle Troiano.
Page 2 of 2 - "Athletically, Derek is probably our most naturally gifted player," Coach Fitzsimmons said. "He's quick, has good touches and almost always finishes. Derek has a lot of finesse, but he has power when he needs it, too."
Over & Out
Western Wayne took a 3-goal lead into intermission, but Paupack refused to go quietly.
Thomas McLain cut the deficit to 3-1 with an unassisted tally at the 48:31 mark. However, the 'Cats defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way.
Tanner Gillette earned the win in goal. The 'Cats veteran keeper stopped six of the seven shots he faced. Corners were even at five apiece.
Score by Half...
WW (4-5-0) 3 0 — 3
WA (4-4-1) 0 1 — 1