EJ faces defending champs

Sentinel file photo
East Juniata’s Thea Neimond fights for possession of the ball earlier this season. East Juniata takes on Fairfield in the opening round of the Class A tournament.

COCOLAMUS — The East Juniata girls soccer team begins PIAA play with an unenviable task — trying to knock off defending state champion Fairfield in the opening round of the Class A playoffs.

The action kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. at Northwestern High School in Manchester.

The Green Knights started where they left off a year ago — rolling through the regular season and capturing a District 3 crown, their second in as many years. Fairfield (19-3) outscored its opponents 167-17 on the year with 11 shutouts.

Senior Moriah Logue and sophomore 30-plus goal scorers Annabel Anderson and Nora Clarke lead the Fairfield attack.

“It is a tough challenge but if we’re going to make a good state run we want and need to be able to beat a good opponent,” Dressler said. “We haven’t seen Fairfield play, but we know they are quick and dangerous in the attacking third. They are going to come at us hard so we will need to be prepared for that.”

The Tigers enter the state playoffs as the District 4 runner-up to Bloomsburg with a 19-3-1 record. Junior Hailey Swartz, sophomore Thea Niemond, and freshman Kierstyn Fogle pace the East Juniata attack.

According to Dressler, the team is confident heading into states. The overall record and their second-place finish at districts are the best in school history.

“As a team,we are pretty confident,but it is something we’ve struggled with throughout the season,” Dressler said. “To win this game the girls just need to go out, have fun, and play their game. There is no pressure. Win or lose this group has already had the most successful run in program history.”

Keys to the game for the Tigers are possessing the ball and being smart defensively. Controlling the midfield will also play a huge role in determining a winner.

“Firstly, to be successful, we need to focus on our possessive style of play and wait for the right moment to attack. Secondly, we need to defend hard and smart and keep the ball out of our net,” Dressler said.