Keister hat trick propels Mustangs in win

DANVILLE — It was little more than a shootout between Midd-West and Lake-Lehman but in the end, the Mustangs got behind an Alyssa Keister hat trick to win 4-3 in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A girls soccer playoffs Tuesday at Danville High School.

“We’re one step closer, our ultimate goal is to try and win a state championship so we’ve got to win games like that,” Mustangs coach Lance Burris said. “Just a crappy night to play soccer, you know — when we showed up and there is three-quarters of an inch of snow on the field we knew that it was going to be a battle.

“They’re a (returning) state final four last year so we expected them to bring it and they definitely did that.”

Midd-West’s next game will be against District 1 champ St. Basil Academy, which edged District 11 runner-up Palisades 2-1. The game will be Saturday with the site and time to be determined.

It only took five minutes for the Mustangs (21-1) to get on the scoreboard from a corner kick Tuesday. Though Midd-West failed to get the ball in on the corner, the Black Knights struggled to get rid of it and the ball fell to the feet of the Mustangs’ leading scorer, Kelli Beiler, who turned and fired a shot right into the back of the net.

Lake-Lehman then took its turn for some offense as Amanda Ayers found an open Mackenzie Love, who was able to slip past and get ahead of the defense and loop one over the head of Midd-West keeper Carli Marshall to even the score at one apiece with 23:02 remaining in the half.

It only took five minutes for Midd-West to get that one back. Reagan Hornberger moved the ball over to the speedy Keister, who lasered one by Black Knights’ keeper Emma Stroud.

The goal gave the Mustangs a 2-1 lead that stood at the break.

“I thought we had a good first half,” Burris said. “I think we adjusted well considering conditions.”

Lake-Lehman came out in the second half a completely different team at the start as the duo of Ayers and Love struck again. Ayers launched a long pass to Love who split right through the Midd-West defense and evened the game up at two apiece.

The Black Knights then took their first lead of the contest after another long pass to Love, who again hustled right by for another one on one against Marshall before hammering one at the corner of the net.

“I thought we just needed to be better defensively,” Burris said. “Our defense, we need to be back there, we need to tighten things up and we can not allow that many easy goals. Just frustrated to have to win 4-3 in the first round of states so hopefully we can spend sometime working on that stuff. We need to shut people down.”

But from then on it was all Keister putting on a show. With 33:55 left in the game, she broke through not one but two tackles and then blasted one in to even things up again.

Keister again looked to give the Mustangs the lead but was stopped by Stroud; she was injured on the play, though, and did not return. Stephanie Ayers took her place patrolling the line.

The Mustangs decided to take advantage and put the pressure on the the new goalkeeper. Beiler moved the ball over to Keister as Ayers looked to challenge the pass only to slip and fall. Keister took advantage of the open net with the go-ahead — and eventual game-winning — goal.

“We all work good together,” Keister said. “I think we have stuff we need to work on but I think we did well overall.”

Midd-West 4, Lake-Lehman 3

First half

MW–Kelli Beiler, 35:56; LL–Mackenzie Love (Amanda Ayers), 23:02; MW–Alyssa Keister (Reagan Hornberger), 18:52

Second half

LL–Love (Ayers), 36:21; LL–Love, 35:35; MW–Keister, 33:55; MW–Keister(Beilor), 23:52

Shots: MW 6-5. Corners: 2-2. Saves: MW-1 (Carli Marshall), LL-2 (Emma Stroud, Stephanie Ayers)