JCS bows out of D4 tourney
SELINSGROVE — If Juniata Christian had been able to match Northeast Bradford’s speed early in Tuesday’s District 4 Class a girls soccer first-round game, the Lions could have taken a three-goal lead into the break.
If not for more than a bit of bad luck in the second half, the Lions’ Annika Martin could have had three goals of her own.
Instead, the Panthers did all the scoring and the season ended for Juniata Christian in a 5-0 loss at Selinsgrove’s Harold L. Bolig Memorial Field.
Down by just a goal as the second half opened, Martin tore down the field to start the half on the first of three breakaways she had after the break, but her kick went just wide of the net. Just over a minute later, the ball was at the other end and an inadvertent kick made the Panther lead 2-0, on an own goal.
Still, the Lions were down but not out. Martin soon had another chance one-on-one with Panther keeper Ciana Frisbie, this time suffering the resounding thud of the ball bouncing off the right post. She had one more charge before the game was over, this time perhaps holding the ball too long and taking a shot that Frisbie was ready for.
The good news, as Juniata Christian coach Todd Taylor explained, is that Martin has “had a great year. She’s in 10th grade — She’s got two more years with us.”
In between those two chances, Alena Beebe and Melanie Shumway — who paired for the only first-half goal — scored a third when Juniata Christian goalie Morgan Moyer was screened.
Shumway put two more balls away unassisted in the final 10 minutes. Juniata Christian’s last, best chance belonged to junior Peyton Burd, who got a solid kick right in front of the goal, again with the goalie ready.
It was not, as Taylor described it, a game played with the intensity he was accustomed to seeing from his squad. The Lions (14-6-1) were hesitant early in the game, didn’t move to the ball well and were decimated in the restart department.
“We weren’t beating them to the ball and they were beating us in the midfield. We had our chances up top in the first half and the beginning of the second,” Taylor said. “They took advantage of their opportunities.”
Northeast Bradford (12-7) was quick and able to move the ball well, knocking more than a few passes half the length of the field. Despite those imbalances, it was the Lions who had most of the opportunities in the early going. They just couldn’t get the ball past Frisbie.
“In the first half we had a lot of chances and just didn’t finish,” Taylor lamented. “Maybe the moment was a little big for us, I don’t know.”
The game was 23 minutes old before the Northern Tier team had a good chance in front of the goal, and the Panthers made the most of it. Shumway — who had a foot on four of her team’s five goals — booted a cross in front of Moyer, and that ball found Beebe on the far side of the goal.
She made a timely tap to put it behind Moyer for the first score of the game.
It could have been a two-goal game just three minutes later when Moyer came out to play a ball and Northeast Bradford got behind her with an unprotected net in front. But the Lion defense cleared it to keep the lead at one.
The tide began to turn in earnest as the half played out, with Juniata Christian worsening its own situation with haphazard throw-ins and passes that were regularly intercepted. Inside the five-minute mark a corner kick nearly became a Panther goal, but Moyer was able to fend off the attack again.
“It’s a little disappointing but the girls had a great year,” Taylor said. “I’m proud of them. We had a great year getting here, and we had a great year in our league.
“We’ve talked all year about trying to get better and better and better, and this team has. It’s just a little sad that we weren’t able to play the way we wanted to play to finish this year out.”
Northeast Bradford 5, Juniata Christian 0
NEB 2 3 — 5
JCS 0 0 — 0
Goals: Alena Beebe 2, Melanie Shumway 2 (NEB). Assists: Melanie Shumway 2. Shots 10-3, NEB. Corners: 6-4, NEB. Saves: Morgan Moyer 5 (JCS); Ciana Frisbie, Hannah Berger 3 (NEB).