Belleville sustains first loss, to Lions

JMS?uses two first-half goals for victory

Sentinel photo by MATT STRICKER
Belleville Mennonite’s David Yoder, center, and Juniata Mennonite’s Trey Tusing fight to win the ball Tuesday in Belleville. Watching the play is Belleville Mennonite’s Nicholas McNeil, right.

BELLEVILLE — Juniata Mennonite handed Belleville Mennonite its first loss of the season with a 2-1 Allegheny Christian Athletic Association boys soccer victory on Tuesday.

“It feels good for the win but you know we just had some times where we didn’t play real well and I thought we’re going to just pack up and leave,” Lions coach Dave Portzline said. “For about eight minutes we just kinda did that, we packed up and sat at the 18 and just took shots. Not sure why we quit playing when we were possessing the ball and we were attacking and all of the sudden I felt like eight minutes left we decided to not do anything.”

The Thunder came out of the gates hard at the start of the game and quickly took a couple shots at the Juniata Mennonite net but were unsuccessful.

Then the Lions stormed toward the net as Anson Portzline found an open Jared Fuller who launched the ball over the head of Thunder goalkeeper Rhiley Parks to give Juniata Mennonite a 1-0 lead.

Not too long after that the Lions struck again. Trey Tusing put a direct kick past Parks and into the back of the net extending it to a 2-0 lead.

“We looked like we started off a little slow but then once we started gaining possession, we were passing the ball to each others feet, it looked a lot better then,” Portzline said. “We started moving the ball around, we were making Belleville Mennonite run all over the place. At halftime I said next 40 minutes we need to do the exact same thing, we’re going to know if their in shape or not and so like I said we did do that again but then we kinda shut down again. We tend to want to go into a defensive shape.”

For much of the first half, the Thunder struggled to get themselves going offensively as they were unable to get set in large part of the pressure from the visitors.

“I felt that the first 10 minutes of the game we had an opportunity to establish ourselves and we did,” Thunder coach Brian Renno said. “I felt we wanted to throw the ball wide and we did, we struggled with our crosses and finding our targets on the crosses.”

Anytime the Thunder had the ball, they were quickly met by one of the Lion players and immediately put the pressure on forcing Belleville Mennonite into errors.

“I don’t feel as much as pressure as to we were reacting and we were not initiating play like we had been,” Renno said. “I felt like we were waiting for the ball to be played and we weren’t initiating with the energy and intensity that we’ve been accustomed too.”

It was pretty much a defensive slugfest throughout the second half with neither team truly able to get a shot at the net.

But then Belleville Mennonite ramped up the pressure on the the Lions’ defensive line with five minutes remaining in the game. The pressure was too much for Juniata Mennonite and the Lions were called for a hand ball in the box, giving the Thunder a penalty kick. Drew Hartzler successfully executed the PK to make the final.

Belleville Mennonite just ran out of time despite unleashing an unrelenting attack on the Lions, who quickly began crowding the net. Even when the Thunder managed to break through, they were unable to get the ball by Jorge Flores, who was a wall for Juniata Mennonite in the closing seconds.

“We were holding possession well but still we weren’t creating anything,” Renno said. “JMS was packing the box and we struggled to break through. We get a goal with five minutes left and the energy comes back but too little, too late.”

Juniata Mennonite (4-1, 1-1) travels to Grace Prep on Friday. Belleville Mennonite (4-1, 3-1) travels to Northumberland Christian on Thursday.

Juniata Mennonite 2, Belleville Mennonite 1

First half

JMS — Jared Fuller (Anson Portzline), 32:42; JMS — Trey Tusing, 25:03

Second half

BMS — Drew Hartzler (PK), 4:22

Shots: BMS 6-4. Corners: BMS 3-1. Saves: BMS-2 (Rhiley Parks), JMS-5 (Jorge Flores)