MIFFLINTOWN - Most rivalry matches start out with a bang. But someone forgot to bring the dynamite to Tuesday's field hockey match between cross-county rivals East Juniata and Juniata.
East Juniata won the match 5-1, and although the score would indicate that East Juniata was on fire the whole time, both teams stepped onto the pitch rather flatfooted.
"They just didn't look like they showed up to play," East Juniata coach Billie Haines said. And the description could apply to both Haines' Tigers and the Indians.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
East Juniata’s Stephanie Dressler, right, controls the ball past Juniata’s Jessie Wagner (4) Tuesday in Mifflintown. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
Both teams came out with lackluster first-half performances, and it was evident in the numbers. East Juniata, which spent most of the first half in front of Juniata's cage, couldn't put anything together until Megan Hart, with 3:21 left on the clock, notched the Tigers' first goal. Juniata, which was even slower than East Juniata, didn't get off a single shot on goal the first half.
Going into the second half, with the score close at 1-0, the match was decided by whichever team was willing to ramp up the intensity. And East Juniata was that team.
"I told them they needed to come out and score, and they did," Haines said of her team's halftime talk.
IF YOU GO
East Juniata hosts Greenwood Thursday
Juniata hosts Line Mountain Thursday
"(In the) second half they played with intensity and went after it. They were in the cage and we had somebody on the keeper, so they were on them in the second half. The first half we were all just kind of standing around and waiting," Haines said.
One player in particular who decided to stop waiting around was Hart. Hart scored four of her team's five goals, and Haines gave Hart a lot of credit for East Juniata's win.
"I knew that if I put her on the goalie near the cage she'd put it in for me, and that's what she did," Haines said.
As Haines said at another point, Hart plays with heart, and that was evident in Hart's willingness to play where Haines asked.
Hart typically plays in the backfield, but when Haines asked her to step up to the offense, Hart answered the call.
"She normally plays in the back, and she likes it better in the back, but she obviously has the skills for offense. And so whenever I need something done I can move her up the field," Haines said.
But where the Tigers, led by Hart, were able to step up the intensity during the second half, the Indians continued to struggle getting the ball in front of the opponents' cage.
"(In the) first half we didn't play to the potential that we could have," Juniata coach Becky Loy said. "We didn't start off well. I always tell them let's jump on it the first five - well, we didn't jump on it the first five, and it got too close for comfort in our circle."
But even though Loy tried to rally her team early in the game, it just wasn't to be.
The Indians did score 100 percent of the shots they took, but that number doesn't sound so good when you consider Juniata only had one goal for the match.
This goal was scored by Megan Yeager, who dribbled it toward the cage and scored after receiving the pass on a penalty corner.
Part of Juniata's problem was slowness to the ball and lack of teamwork. Juniata had trouble pushing the ball down the field, and when the girls did get it past midfield, their passing was a little off.
"When we got the ball we needed to pass to a teammate, or EJ's going to intercept it and break away and then we're trying to run back," Loy said.
Loy did say she thought her team showed a little more intensity in the second half than in the first, but the Indians still struggled to put together a strong team effort.
"I thought they all did try to fight, but they needed to fight as a team," Loy said. "It takes the whole team to get it up to get it back, and they did that against Midd-West. So yesterday was the team I was looking for today, but with our numbers we all need to show up to play."
East Juniata (5-3, 4-2) hosts Tri-Valley League leader Greenwood on Thursday. Haines hopes her team's current momentum will carry though into the upcoming match.
"We have a four-game winning streak right now, so we're hoping that can continue. I think they'll be a little more fired up than they were tonight," Haines said.
Juniata (4-5, 0-4) hosts Line Mountain on Thursday.