Mustangs duel with Knights

Sentinel file photo
Midd-West’s Reagan Hornberger fights for possession of the ball earlier this season. Midd-West opens Class 2A tournament play against Lake-Lehman tonight.

MIDDLEBURG — The Midd-West girls’ soccer team begins the PIAA state playoffs with a confident attitude as it faces Lake Lehman, a state semifinalist in 2016, in the opening round of the Class 2A championships.

The action gets underway today at 5 p.m. at Danville High School.

Mustangs coach Lance Burris says his players are mentally ready for the challenge of possibly winning a state championship, but health is a concern.

“We are a little beat up. We lost our senior midfielder to an ACL tear last Thursday. When you get 21 games in a season you’re going to have bumps and bruises,” Burris said. “We had the weekend to rest. Hopefully, that helped out. Mentally, we are great. The girls have a lot of confidence. They are really relaxed, cool, calm, and collected.”

The Black Knights won the District 2 title over Montrose last week on penalty kicks. Senior captain Mackenzie Love collected two goals in the title tilt and is the team’s leading scorer.

“Coach Lori Goodling watched them play last week. They have a couple 100-goal scorers. It’s going to be a test,” Burris said. “They are a tough team and we are prepared for a real battle. Lake Lehman is a state semifinalist from a year ago and one of the top teams in the state. In the playoffs, you can’t expect any team to be easy.”

Midd-West (20-1) captured the District 4 championship thanks to senior Kelli Beiler. The Penn State-bound striker is the all-time leading scorer in school history. She had two goals and an assist in a 3-1 win over Central Columbia in the district finals. Beiler is the catalyst, but it will take a total team effort against the Black Knights.

“Most importantly, we have to have a lot of girls step up and play their best soccer for 80 minutes. It all comes down to who wants it the most,” Burris said. “We have to take advantage of some of the chances we get. Our defense has been outstanding this season and we need that to continue. It would be nice to come out, play our game, and make a great run in the tournament.”

For Burris, the keys to victory for Midd-West are to stay relaxed, organized and have a little bit of lady luck on its side.

“I would say for our girls they know we can score. We have to relax, stay positive, and just know at any point in time they can be a difference maker,” Burris said. We have to stay organized, get the ball outside to our wingers, and win the midfield battle. It’s also a good thing to have a little bit of luck in your back pocket.”