Young Tigers too much for Huntingdon

Sentinel photo by JEFF FISHBEIN
East Juniata’s Emily Knepp, center, runs the ball down the field as Huntingdon’s Reagan Querry, 15, and Sarah Farley, 12, and East Juniata’s Kyli Dowling, 4, run with her Monday in Cocolamus.

COCOLAMUS — Two of East Juniata’s three seniors got their names in the scorebook during Monday’s 7-1, nonleague field hockey win over Huntingdon Monday.

But the underclass proved the Tigers should be a force to reckon with beyond this season.

Junior Laney Dowling scored twice and added an assist while sophomore Kyli Dowling had a goal and a helper — the latter coming on one of Laney’s goals — as the youngsters dominated the scoring in the second half.

Not that it wasn’t already tilted in the home team’s favor at the break — the Tigers scored the first three goals of the game, two on penalty corners.

The first mark on the scoreboard took barely two and a half minutes and came on the first penalty corner awarded in the contest. Sarah Goss put the ball in play and Emily Knepp stroked it from the top of the circle, a rocket that went straight into the cage untouched.

In the 10th minute of the game, Kyli Dowling found the ball on her stick in the midst of a scrum in the circle and popped it into the goal. Four minutes later, Goss was behind Bearcat goalie Mikayla Cummings to tip a cross in from the post, and the Tigers seemed unbeatable.

The difference for East Juniata was the way it was handling the ball.

“That’s something we’ve been working on since preseason, we’ve been working from the beginning of the year. It’s finally come through,” East Juniata coach Harley Straub said. “I am so proud of the girls — they brought everything together in this game. They were able to keep up the intensity and keep up the pressure.”

The success didn’t last forever. Huntingdon was awarded a corner with 11 minutes to play in the half; the Bearcats tried to scoot one past Madi Beward from her right, and when that didn’t work, they did it again — successfully, this time, as Kelly Ardney took a feed from Olivia Bell and made the score 3-1, which stood until halftime.

“I know a lot of teams kind of view Huntingdon/BMS as automatic wins,” Straub said, referring to the cooperative — like her own — where girls from Belleville Mennonite are playing, including Bell. “I told the girls not to do that. You never know with field hockey what’s going to happen.”

The second half belonged to East Juniata. It took a few minutes — and a wake-up call after a restart that caught the Tigers out of position — but eventually the game became rather lopsided.

Early in the half, Huntingdon turned away a corner play. A few minutes later, the Bearcats benefited from an out-of-position Frances Brubaker, who couldn’t turn on the ball fast enough to score on an open-field pass.

Brubaker, another of the successful sophomores, got on the board four minutes later though when she and Laney Dowling went back and forth with the ball in front of the cage, with Brubaker getting the last tap to put it in.

Dowling scored the next two, one a straight shot off a corner and the other on the double-Dowling connection.

Brubaker nabbed a second goal when she took a rebound off Cummings’ pads and sent it back in.

The sharp stick play, Straub said, is both a confidence booster for her regulars and a learning experience for the bench, which will be critical as the Tri-Valley League schedule unfolds.

“Having all the girls do that and see that today is going to give them confidence that we need,” she said. “Eventually, it’s going to go through and we’re going to score goals against Newport, Greenwood, all the other teams.”

East Juniata (2-4) travels to Susquenita today.

East Juniata 7, Huntingdon 1

First half

EJ–Emily Knepp (Sarah Goss), 27:36; EJ–Kyli Dowling, 20:48; EJ–Goss, 16:50; Hu–Kelly Ardney (Olivia Bell), 10:45.

Second half

EJ–Frances Brubaker (Laney Dowling), 18:06; EJ–L.Dowling (Goss), 14:44; EJ–L.Dowling (K.Dowling), 10:14; EJ–Brubaker, 4:32.

Shots: EJ 17-3. Corners: EJ 10-2. Saves: EJ-2 (Madi Beward), Hu-10 (Mikayla Cummings).