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Lion boys slip in single-goal semifinal

MIFFLINTOWN — It was a tale of two halves as Juniata Mennonite fell to Blair County Christian 2-1 in the Allegheny Christian Athletic Association boys soccer tournament semifinals Friday.

The Lions finish the season today back at Cedar Springs Park in the third-place game against the ACAA’s newest member, Belleville Mennonite.

“I am so impressed with these guys,” Lions coach Dave Portzline said. “They played so well. They just performed to a T. They performed perfectly with everything I had ask them to do.”

The Lions (10-4-1) came out extremely physically against the Bobcats through the first half of the game. The physicality of the game caught Blair County Christian, the top team from the ACAA West, off guard, forcing the Bobcats into making several mistakes.

In fact, Blair County Christian was unable to get into its offense. Juniata Mennonite took advantage of the situation, creating a two-on-one with Jared Fuller hustling down the field. He sent a cross pass to Anson Portzline, who darted the ball in to give the Lions a 1-0 lead that stood at the half.

“It was excellent — I loved how well the boys played in the first half,” Portzline said. “They pressured the ball hard.”

But fortunes changed for Juniata Mennonite in the second half. Blair County Christian went on the attack at the net. Initially, the Bobcats failed to score thanks to the efforts of Lions’ goalkeeper Trey Tusing.

At one point, Blair County Christian had three straight attempts stopped by Tusing. But with just under 10 minutes to play, Tusing was called for a foul after a collision with a Blair County Christian player, giving the Bobcats a chance to tie the game on a penalty kick. Davis Dull took advantage, evening the score at one apiece.

The momentum completely changed from there on. With just over two minutes left in regulation, the Bobcats struck as Aaron Winters slipped past the Juniata Mennonite defensive line to score the go-ahead goal.

“When something like that happens where it changes the momentum that we had, It kind of deflates everything for us,” Portzline said. “But I think if it was a different scenario, I do think we would be able to continue holding them and could have been playing for a championship.”

Blair County Christian 2, Juniata Mennonite 1

First half

JMS — Anson Portzline (Jared Fuller), 10:53

Second half

B — Davis Dull (PK), 8:13; B — Aaron Winters, 2:09

Shots: B15-2. Corners: B 9-3 Saves: JMS-13 (Trey Tusing, Jorge Flores), B-1 (Ethan Carn).

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