WILLIAMSPORT - To be a champion, you have to play like a champion.
That's why when the East Juniata boys soccer team scored seven goals in the second half of its District 4 Class A championship match against Benton, it was clear the Tigers were the deserving champions.
The final score was 7-0.
And it's not the first year the Tigers have played like champions. Saturday's win marked East Juniata's fourth straight district title.
"This was the East Juniata pressure we want to see," East Juniata coach Don Troutman said, as he succinctly summarized what the match was all about.
Pressure soccer is what Troutman has been preaching to his boys all season long, and to watch the Tigers on Saturday, it was clear the boys were all believers.
*East Juniata plays Trinity Tuesday in Williamsport
In the first 40 minutes of the game, the pressure on both ends of the field was so high that neither team could muscle out a goal. But even if the score didn't show it after the first half, East Juniata was slowly building its attack and it was only a matter of time until the Tigers busted it open.
Enter Devon Goodling.
Just over five minutes into the second half, it was still knotted up at 0-0, but then Goodling shot a rocket past Benton's keeper and into the upper right corner of the net to put the Tigers up 1-0. From there, the rest of the game was history.
In just over three minutes from there, East Juniata had the score at 3-0, but they were nowhere close to finished.
At 27:12, Spencer Reinford took a pass from Nick Lorenz to score; at 20:57 Ben Auker knocked one in when he found it loose in front of the net; at 13:32 Landon Sheaffer took a pass from Dalton Shipp to mark one of his own; and at 11:54 Lorenz took a shot of his own which skipped out of the goalie's hands and into the net for East Juniata's final score.
Add these to Lorenz's first goal earlier in the half and one from Jake Sankey, and the Tigers ended with a score of 7-0.
"I think in the first half, even though we played really well we didn't really get the chances. In the second half, after that first one it was like the floodgates opened," Troutman said.
And Troutman credits a lot of this offense to his team's high pressure style of play.
"We played high pressure the whole game. And I think that the pressure affected (Benton's) game."
Troutman also gave Benton credit for keeping his team scoreless in the first half.
"I'll tell you what, they came out and pressured well too. And they played hard. Anything that we had in the box, they had somebody stepping to it and stepping hard. And that was part of the reason in the first half that we didn't put any of them away."
On Tuesday East Juniata (20-2) takes on Trinity in Williamsport in the first round of the state tournament. Trinity was the 3-0 winner over Lancaster Country Day for third place in the District 3 Class A tournament.
As Troutman looks forward to the state tournament, he feels good about what his team might be able to accomplish. Compared to his other three District 4 championship teams, he says that while each team had something unique, this year's team is physically larger than the ones before and "skill-wise this is as good as we've had from front to back."
But despite the excitement of Saturday's win and the possibilities that await in the state tournament, Troutman is realistic about the level of play his team needs to deliver.
"We've got to go and play," Troutman said. "I think we're capable of making a deep run into states. I think we can play with anybody out there, but we've got to come and play."