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Tigers roll past Indians in rivalry game

Kierstyn Fogle scores 4 goals in EJ victory

Sentinel photo by MIKE GOSS
East Juniata’s Leah Sankey takes a shot while Juniata’s goalie Hailey Kepner dives to make a save Monday evening at Dietrick Field.

MIFFLINTOWN–When the East Juniata offense is rolling, goals tend to come in bunches.

The Indians were the Tigers latest victim on Monday evening as Kierstyn Fogle put four balls in the back of the net and Leah Sankey also scored as East Juniata cruised past rival Juniata, 5-1, in a battle of cross county rivals at Dietrick Field in a Tri-Valley League girls soccer contest.

The Tigers (10-1, 9-0 Tri-Valley League) excelled in all areas on Monday, using a ton of pressure in the midfield to win and maintain possession, while Tigers goalkeeper Grace Hibbs was rarely tested.

The East Juniata offense was calm and poised, made the extra pass throughout the opening half and applied a ton of pressure on Juniata goalkeeper Hailey Kepner, who made 13 saves in the loss.

“We were hitting our stride offensively a little bit,” East Juniata coach Christian Dressler said. “We knew in the rain that the ball was just going to fly. We are trying to get away from just leading with passes because we don’t have the pace like we did in other years. We are just trying to find feet and it showed up tonight. We have a nice 1-2 between Kierstyn and Leah in the middle that resulted in our goals.”

Fogle and Sankey put relentless pressure on the Indians’ back lines as the 3-0 lead proved to be insurmountable for Juniata.

Paden noted the difference in his team’s effort in the opening half.

“We definitely looked better in the second half and we just need to figure that out,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s nerves, or if it’s being too cautious. When we come into the second half down three goals with nothing to lose and we are more confident, we’re getting up the field and moving. We’re working on getting people forward to keep possession. When we played timid and scared that first half we kept getting pounded on. We’re working on it and we’re looking better.”

Juniata (3-5, 3-3 Tri-Valley League) played much better in the second half and got on the board with 28:43 left to play, as Katey Martin headed the ball into the back of the net off a beautiful corner kick.

“We tell them that if you don’t get the ball near the goal you will never score,” Juniata coach Garrick Paden said. “They drove forward and we finished it off the corner. It was a good play and we want to see more of it.”

Fogle added a pair of goals in the second half, the first coming off a through ball into the box where she juked Kepner to put the ball in the back of the net. Fogle’s fourth and final goal came off a Juniata corner kick where the Tigers’ defense intercepted the ball and pushed the ball ahead to Fogle, who ran the right sideline and snuck one by Kepner with 7:24 left to play.

The 1-2 punch of Fogle and Sankey has worked wonders for the Tigers’ offense as Fogle continues to add to her county record for goals, as her season total now sits at 28 goals through 11 games. Sankey has found the back of the net 11 times for East Juniata and recently scored her 50th career goal on Friday.

“The last few years we were all about working the flanks because we had that speed and now with a little less of that we are working the middle some more which puts pressure on Kierstyn and Leah,” Dressler said. “We’re trying to lessen that pressure because we need that attacking threat from other players but they are clicking well and they work well together and they are finishing a lot. Both of them are. They are both dangerous and they both get forward. It shows in the score book.”

Dressler is pleased with where his team sits through the first 11 games, although he hopes that his team can continue to adapt to a new style of play as the Tigers are trying to be more conservative offensively without a deep group of substitutes and a battle with the injury bug.

“We are trying to get away from that because we just don’t have the subs,” he said. “We’re trying to play a little bit more conservative this year because the last few years we have been going gung ho. We’re seeing some good things and we’re working on it, but it’s good in games like this where we have the upper hand [to play that style].”

Paden believes that his team’s best soccer is still ahead of it.

“We’re a young team and we’re just trying to keep putting things together to work on that team chemistry,” he said. “It’s looking better and I’m happy that we are continuing to improve as we go in the season.”

With a brutal non-conference schedule and two games against a dominant East Juniata program, the Indians are hoping to make a strong push toward a District berth in the upcoming weeks.

“We played some tough non-conference opponents like Altoona and Bald Eagle, so even though our record may not be too pretty to look at, we don’t have many games where we didn’t play that great,” he said. “There are some games we could have been better but we’re improving and we just need to grow and gain that experience. I think we have a bright future and could be good in the postseason once everyone has a full season of experience under their belts. We’re piecing it together.”

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