Juniata toughs out vengeance over Belleville

MIFFLINTOWN – In the first game of a three-game week, the Juniata boys soccer team toughed out a strong non-league win over a resilient Belleville Mennonite team, 3-2, avenging an overtime loss from a week ago.

It was a game of comebacks as each team took turns controlling the tempo of the game. But when it counted it was the Indians that stood victorious at the final buzzer.

“I definitely thought the effort was there. Obviously going up a man early in the beginning helped out. But even to that point I felt we were controlling what was going on and it was pretty much in our hands to finish it and put it away but we didn’t do that,” Juniata coach Clint Brackbill said. “They came out fired up and we came out real sluggish and they finished two opportunities and we’re down one. Definitely appreciate the effort we had to come back. This was definitely a big win for us.

Juniata got an early break in the first half when its offense penetrated the back third of the Thunder. On a kick in the box, a Belleville player drew a hard red card and the Thunder were forced to play short for the entire game.

That also left Juniata’s Wyatt Brackbill standing face to face against Thunder goalkeeper Sammy Kauffman.

Brackbill faked to his left and shot to his right and put the ball past Kauffman, making it 1-0.

Despite being down a man, the Thunder played the Indians tough the rest of the way through the first half.

In the final 15 minutes of the first half, the Indians began to take control of the tempo of the game but could not pick up anymore goals in the first stanza.

As the buzzer sounded ending the half, Juniata had outshot Belleville Mennonite 9-5.

After an uplifting halftime talk by coach Brian Renno, the Thunder lit it up almost immediately after the second half got under way.

Belleville Mennonite took its first possession and got it into the possession of Andrew Miller. Miller found the far side of the goal and blasted it past Coldren, tying the contest at 1-1.

Less than a minute later, the Thunder offense rumbled down the field once again and Noah Anders took as shot, jumping and hitting the ball into the goal while being hit in midair, giving Belleville Mennonite its first lead of the game.

“I told them that the first 10 minutes out there is going to be the key to our success,” Renno said. “I thought if we could come out with some intensity and realize we were not out of the game, we’d be fine.”

It took until the 32-minute mark before the Indians scratched and clawed back to tie the score.

On an indirect kick, Chantz Imes battled for the ball after it rebounded off the hands of the Belleville mennonite goalie. His rebound shot with 30:39 still showing on the clock tied the game once again.

However, the Indians sealed the deal with over 21 minutes left in the game when Brackbill picked up his second goal of the game, upping the score to 3-2 in favor of the home team.

Juniata’s defense took over from there en route to the one-goal victory.