Indians’ lasting power meets match

Juniata falls in double OT to WPIAL?team

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
Juniata’s George Hazard, left, tries to break a scoreless knot in overtime against Deer Lakes in a PIAA Class 2A game at Bald Eagle Area. In his way are Alex Rogers (4), goalie Nick Braun and Devin Murray.

WINGATE — Juniata battled Deer Lakes through regulation and one overtime going toe-to-toe with the returning state runner-up before falling 1-0 in double overtime in the opening round of the PIAA Class 2A boys soccer tournament on Tuesday at Bald Eagle Area.

Michael Sullivan made his ninth shot on goal count when Devin Murray stole the ball, dished it to Sullivan, and he dribbled down the middle of the field and scored the game-winner at 7:26 of the second overtime.

“That’s a returning state finalist last year in double-A soccer and for our guys to come out and gut out what they did for a double-overtime game and give Deer Lakes everything they could handle, I couldn’t be prouder of my team,” Juniata coach Jared Byler said. “I know the rest of the coaches feel the same. There isn’t one kid who didn’t leave their bleeding heart out on that field tonight. It was a phenomenal effort from our guys.”

The Indians end the season at 15-8 and winners of their first District 6 championship in program history.

“I don’t think what these guys have accomplished will sink into them until a couple of weeks or a month down the road,” Byler said. “To accomplish school history like they did — winning the first district championship in boys’ soccer history, getting to a state playoff game and playing as they did against a returning state finalist — it’s going to take a while for the moment to sink in. Our goal this year was to win districts and get into states. We are incredibly proud of our guys for accomplishing their goal this year.”

The first half was all Lancers. Deer Lakes outshot Juniata 14-4 in the first 40 with three shots hitting the post. Only the Indians back four of Scott Brosius, Barrett Walters, Nathan Swailes and Jack Strawser, along with goalie Johnny Dessin, kept them in the contest. The Indian senior had 10 saves in the first half and 16 for the game.

“Johnny proved tonight why he is a two-time returning Tri-Valley League all-star. That’s the best game I’ve ever seen him play and he’s part of the reason why we got this game into double overtime,” Byler said. “Our back four was phenomenal. Our defense was great. Scott Brosius played the game of his life tonight and Barrett Walters played a great game. Our back four played the best I’ve seen them play. We are incredibly proud of our defense tonight.”

Juniata’s best chance to score came at the 14th minute of the second half when Tad Shellenberger connected with Stuart Dare on a perfect cross setting up a one-on-one with Lancer keeper Nick Braun. Dare’s shot went wide right, ending the scoring chance.

“We talked before the game and felt the winner of this game is the one who makes the fewest mistakes and the one that capitalizes on the other team’s mistakes,” Byler said. “Deer Lakes is the best team we’ve seen all year by far. We had our opportunities and couldn’t put them away tonight.”

Deer Lakes (17-5) missed several opportunities in the second half as well including two more shots that hit the post or crossbar.

The Lancers controlled the pace of play, the midfield, time of possession, shots (28-7) and corners (8-5). The Indians brought hustle and determination to the pitch, holding off Deer Lakes as long as they could.

Shellenberger, Dare and George Hazard had two shots each for Juniata. In addition to Sullivan’s nine, A.J. Dorman and Ryan Rogers had five shots apiece to pace Deer Lakes.

“This was a wide-open game. It was a quick back-and-forth game where you hope to stay organized but you just might find yourself out of position,” Byler said. “Nobody wanted to lose this game tonight. Everybody was on the field fighting for every inch. It was so much fun to watch a game like this.”

Deer Lakes 1, Juniata 0 (2 OT)

Second overtime

DL–Michael Sullivan (Devin Murray), 7:26.

Shots: DL 28-7. Corners: DL 8-5. Saves: DL-4 (Nick Braun), J-16 (Johnny Dessin).