MIDDLEBURG - When the East Juniata girls soccer team made it to the district quarterfinals last year, it dropped out of the tournament after a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss to Mount Carmel.
Saturday, when East Juniata again made it to the quarterfinals, this time against Benton, it was a whole different story.
Starting with an Ashlyn Erhard goal after about 15 minutes of play, East Juniata's offense was unstoppable all game long, and the locals won the match 5-0. With the win, East Juniata advances to the semifinals of District 4. East Juniata will take on Millville Tuesday in Hughesville.
"This was a hump game for them to get over," East Juniata coach Lori Goodling said, referencing last year's quarterfinal loss.
As a result, Goodling thought her girls were fighting some nerves early in the match, and that may have explained why it took them a while to get the offense started. But once that first goal was scored, East Juniata never looked back. As Goodling said, "I think until they worked that out and got that first goal, they started connecting a little more in the midfield. The girls moved the ball really nice side to side."
But even before the first goal was scored, a pivotal moment occurred when Benton's Casey Gavin broke through East Juniata's defense and dribbled downfield toward keeper Zetta Zettlemoyer. With no one there to help, Zettlemoyer was forced to charge the play and dive on Gavin's shot just in time to prevent the Benton score. In this way, Zettlemoyer kept her team in the game while the offense was still trying to find its pace.
*East Juniata plays
Millville Tuesday in
"That save in the beginning was just a turning point," Goodling said. "For us, she made a huge save. If that goal would have gone in, then you're playing catch up and (Benton) gets the momentum."
But as it turned out, it was East Juniata which had the momentum, and after that first Erhard goal the locals started an offense which couldn't be stopped.
In East Juniata's second goal, Kayla Hoke took advantage of a free kick outside the box after a Benton player was called for a handball. This took the score to 2-0 with 9:42 left in the first half. East Juniata didn't connect again until early in the second half, but that's not to say the offense wasn't applying pressure that whole time. In the last three minutes of the first half, East Juniata really turned up the pressure, sending three strong shots on goal that would have resulted in scores if not for diving saves from Benton's goalie Kaitlyn Derrick.
But even if Derrick was having a strong game, East Juniata's constant pressure began to wear on Benton's defense, and in the second half East Juniata put together three more goals for a final score of 5-0.
All three second half goals were fine examples of East Juniata's high level of teamwork. The first was another Erhard goal, after she received a nice feed from Hoke right in front of the goal. The second came off the foot of Hannah Scholl. Scholl got the ball in good position after Michelle Mease got in position to win a Benton goal kick and headed the ball far downfield to Scholl. The third goal was put in by Hoke after Autumn Dressler just missed and bounced a shot off the crossbar.
In East Juniata's next match, Goodling hopes her team can again put forth the type of pressure it displayed on Saturday, only this time she wants to see it from the very beginning of the match.
"I think we need to see a whole total 80 minutes of soccer," Goodling said.
But considering her team's current attitude, Goodling doesn't seem to think that will be a problem.
"They're excited. They want to keep it going, so I think they're going to work hard."