Littlestown senior Josh Blose (left) celebrates with head coach Brett Powell following Monday’s win in which Blose had a hat trick to give him 52 career goals.

Littlestown knew coming into its final match of the regular season that to give itself a chance of qualifying for the District 3 tournament for the first time in program history, it had to defeat Kennard-Dale.

When senior Josh Blose capped off his hat trick at the 5:43 mark of the second overtime, the Thunderbolts had pulled it off with a 3-2 victory in boys’ soccer action Monday night at Thunderbolt Stadium.

Blose bumped his season goal total to 26 and his career goal total to 52, both of which are school records.

“I was thinking all night about how this could my last game, so I tried to give it my all,” Blose said. “It feels great to get the recognition that comes with these records, but I couldn’t have set them without my teammates. So they deserve as much as credit as I do.”

Littlestown (11-5-2) has gone from one win in Blose’s freshman campaign, to two, then to five last year, doubling its win total in each season. And the 11 victories in 2021 are the most that the program has pocketed in any season. Another record that the Bolts set this season was shutouts, as they recorded six clean sheets.

“Josh has improved so much in his time here and not just as a player. He’s grown as a person and a leader as well. His teammates really look to him to lead,” Littlestown head coach Brett Powell said. “Our team is set up to play to his strengths, but goal scoring is not as easy as it looks. He can also make chances out of nothing.”

K-D (6-8-1) also entered the match needing a victory to try to qualify for the district tournament in 2A, so the stakes were just as high for the Rams. They began the night 18th in a class that takes the top 16.

The visitors pushed the pace in the early going and jumped ahead just over seven minutes in when Dylan Logue set up Zach Orwig with a pass from left to center that Orwig finished from short range as he lasered it past Bolt netminder Christopher Meakin at the 32:48 mark of the opening half.

Blose’s first marker came unassisted with 27:34 left in the first half to level the match and things stayed there until the late stages of the first half as Meakin made a handful of saves.

Meakin denied a trio of tries by Orwig to put the visitors in front, but they eventually got the better of him when Aidan Hardester scored off an assist from Jason Blough with 3:21 remaining in the first half.

Littlestown was able to reverse the action in the second half, though the Bolts were unable to find the equalizer until Blose did it with 14:53 to go in regulation. It came off of a pair of through balls from Leo Guzman and Trevor Morningstar. Blose took in Morningstar’s pass and then shot from the left side, beating K-D keeper Ryan Perzanowski to the near post.

“I started to feel some pressure there in the second half,” Blose admitted. “We had to make something happen to get it even.”

While he made eight saves on the night, Meakin’s best one may have come when he deflected Logue’s rocket of a direct from 25 yards out over the top of the net with 13:22 left in regulation.

“Christopher was tremendous in goal tonight,” Powell said. “Some of the saves that he made were phenomenal.”

Bolt junior Landon Gulden had a chance to put his team in front, but Perzanowski’s diving save with 3:31 to play in regulation kept it level.

In the second overtime, both teams had a chance to win it, but the keepers weren’t having it. Perzanowski stopped Blose’s go-at-goal with just under seven minutes to go, then Meakin denied Hardester under a minute later.

Meakin’s stonewalling ignited the transition that led to Blose’s winner as Jacob Hufnagle played a through ball to Blose and he ripped one from the left flank that found a home at the far post.

“Their defender kicked my leg a little bit, so I knew that he was out of position a little,” Blose said. “I saw a little opening, took the shot, it got past the keeper and I hoped that I didn’t miss it wide..”

Littlestown began the season by winning its first four matches, but then fell into a tailspin as it dropped three of four. But the Bolts have rebounded to go 6-2-2 in their final 10 matches of the campaign.

“We kept the district talk to a minimum until the last week of the season,” Powell said. “It really was just one game at a time and just worrying about who we were facing on a given day.”

Blose didn’t grow up in Littlestown and admitted that he considered leaving the program midway through his sophomore year.

“When I first moved here in eighth grade, this was a football town all the way,” he said. “We were really struggling here and I considered transferring to Gettysburg for my final two seasons. But Coach and I sat down and he laid out what his plans were for the program going forward. He convinced me that Littlestown was the best place for me.”

The win puts the Bolts solidly into the 10th spot in what will be a 10-team district field, but they aren’t completely out of the woods yet. While 11th-place Bermudian Springs is out of games, 12th-place Trinity still has three matches to play and could still pass both teams if it wins all three, according to Powell.

Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas

Kennard-Dale 2 0 0 0 — 2

Littlestown 1 1 0 1 — 3

Goals: KD-Zach Orwig, Aidan Hardester; L-Josh Blose 3. Assists: KD-Dylan Logue, Jason Blough; L-Trevor Morningstar, Leo Guzman, Jacob Hufnagle. Shots: KD-10; L-7. Corners: KD-8; L-3. Saves: KD-Ryan Perzanowski (4); L-Christopher Meakin (8). JV Score: Littlestown 1, Kennard-Dale 0

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