East Juniata blanks Griffins in semi

Tiger girls clinch return to states

Sentinel photo by BRETT R. CROSSLEY
East Juniata’s Hailey Swartz (8) collects a throw from the sideline and attempts to push a pass into the box in front of Sullivan County’s Isabella Dunham during their District 4 Class A semifinal Thursday at Loyalsock.

WILLIAMSPORT — Experience is vital. So too is a good passing game, quick athletes and great strikers.

East Juniata had all of that in its 9-0 win over Sullivan County Wednesday in a District 4 Class A girls soccer semifinal Thursday night at Loyalsock High School.

The Tigers (21-0) put their perfect season on the line this weekend when they play Southern Columbia in the championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday in Selinsgrove. The team has already clinched a spot in the state tournament that is set to begin next week.

In a regular-season meeting this year, East Juniata beat Southern Columbia 1-0.

Safe to say, that leaves Thea Neimond and the Tigers excited as they were yelling “we’re going to states” after the game.

“It feels great. I love (the) postseason so much,” she said. “It’s the best part of the season.”

Sullivan County goalie Kassidy Beinlich not only had to be aware of where the passing game was taking the Tigers but also had to make sure she stayed with the ball after making saves.

She paid the price early and often for doing such.

Beinlich had a tough time coming up with the ball and it showed in the game’s first minutes when she made a save on the Tigers’ first shot, but it took a hop over her and had to again make sure it didn’t go in the net.

Giving second chances to the Tigers can be deadly, and Neimond showed why.

Just as Beinlich went down low for a save, it escaped her grasp. Neimond didn’t stop running on the play and saw the free opportunity and cashed in with her second goal of the game with less than 12 minutes of gameplay.

Neimond’s first goal came early when she created a one-on-one situation and tucked the ball into the left corner.

She had a hat-trick before the conclusion of the first half when she again took advantage of a second opportunity as Beinlich failed to come back up with the ball on her original save.

“That’s like one of the best games we’ve ever worked the ball. It was just a good team effort and good passing all around,” Neimond said.

The Tigers’ passing game was good that it stretched the field but they did all of their damage from the center of the field.

“Our passing game was so fun to watch,” East Juniata coach Val Dressler said. “It was good soccer all around. There was no reaching for the ball. They were finding each other’s feet, looking left and right and going through the middle. We were very proud of their movement.”

Hailey Swartz and Leah Sankey each scored a goal in the first half. Sankey’s was a rocket from nearly 40 yards out that went top shelf over a drawn-out Beinlich.

Unfortunately for the Griffiths that trend continued. Fortunately for East Juniata, it didn’t need Neimond to make that happen.

Kierstyn Fogle notched her first goal of the game in the first minute of the second half when she, too, played to the whistle and saw Beinlich fumbling with the ball in front of goal.

It forced Sullivan County to make a change in goal as Samantha Skoranski was brought in for, if nothing else, to stop the bleeding some. Beinlich made nine saves in the contest while Skoranski finished with 14. Skoranski looked to have an easier time holding onto the ball and had the save of the game as the ball hit off her hands, then off the right-hand post and back off her head as it stayed put and didn’t go into the goal.

That didn’t stop Fogle any as she and the Tigers continued their dominance up the middle and she got her second goal of the half. The score put the game into a mercy rule, and immediately had the Tigers bring in the bench players for every position except goalkeeper, where Dressler kept Kayla Forry in for the duration of the game.

“Everybody came out prepared tonight,” Dressler said. “We had six different goal scorers and it’s been exciting to see new girls step up in every game. It’s not always the same girls scoring, and that allows others to step up.”

Every healthy member of the team got some playoff experience in the win.

Forry wasn’t tested much as the Griffins got off two shots in the contest with one coming in each half. They didn’t have offensive possession for more than five minutes in either half.

Marissa Coudriet and Amara Brubaker rounded out the scoring for East Juniata.

East Juniata 9, Sullivan County 0

First half

EJ — Thea Neimond (Hailey Swartz), 33:05; EJ — Neimond (Leah Sankey), 29:49; EJ — Leah Sankey (Neimond), 25:16; EJ — Hailey Swartz (Sankey), 11:45; EJ — Neimond, 4:23.

Second half

EJ — Kierstyn Fogle, 39:21; EJ — Fogle (Maddison McDonald), 23:24; EJ — Marissa Coudriet, 20:26; EJ — Amara Brubaker (Brianna Henry), 3:38.

Shots: EJ 18-2. Corners: EJ 10-2. Saves: SC-9 (Kassidy Beinlich/Samantha Skoranski/Lorena Marquardt); EJ-2 (Kayla Forry).