BELLEVILLE - Lots of time in front of the opponents' cage doesn't always guarantee a win, but the Juniata girls field hockey team's win over Belleville Mennonite on Monday shows that it sure doesn't hurt.
Taking advantage of a game played primarily on Belleville Mennonite's side of the field, the Juniata girls shut out the Trojans 4-0 for Juniata's second win in two games.
During the preseason, it was predicted that undersized and inexperienced Juniata team would have difficulty against the competition, and although the season is far from over, two early wins is certainly a nice way to start the season.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY?KREITZER
Juniata’s Jenn Houtz, left, moves the ball past Belleville Mennonite’s Becky Kauffman (14) Tuesday evening in Belleville. Juniata topped the Trojans by a score of 4-0. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com
It was neck and neck for most of the first half, as Juniata and Belleville Mennonite both fought for the first strike, but Juniata took more shots on goal than Belleville was able to manage, and eventually the Indians found the back of the cage.
With 6:29 left in the half, Juniata's Jessie Wagner snuck one past Belleville Mennonite's keeper during a flurry in front of the goal to put Juniata up 1-0.
Going into the second, Juniata's lead was slim and the game was still a toss-up But within the first three minutes of the second half, Juniata scored three goals to expand its lead to 4-0.
r Juniata travels to Line Mountain today
r Belleville Mennonite hosts Huntingdon today
"I'm not sure what took place," said Belleville Mennonite coach Glenna Young of Juniata's second half surge.
"(My girls) were fired up at the half, but it was like we just couldn't stop the ball. Juniata passed really well to get back into the circle, and in three minutes had three goals. That kind of takes the heart out of you," she said.
Young clearly wasn't afraid to give Juniata credit for its well-played offense, and Juniata coach, Becky Loy, was also pleased to credit her girls for their hard work.
"We had really good ball movement," she said. "(My girls) were working in line and kicking the ball back and it was right around the cage but they weren't executing with it. But once we put one in I think it got their momentum going."
And although Juniata's offense really started clicking in the second half, the defense did a good job of making sure the team maintained that 4-0 lead.
At several points, Belleville Mennonite was able to clear the ball from its own net, but Juniata's defense consistently stifled the breakaway and made it difficult for Belleville Mennonite to move the ball past midfield.
"I thought we did really good stepping up," Loy said. "They were talking in the back, and as the ball moved up they did a good job of shifting. As one girl stepped up the other one filled in. I thought they flowed really well with their movement to the ball."
But, where everything flowed for Juniata, it proved to be a more frustrating outing for Belleville Mennonite.
Belleville's defense was busy all 60 minutes of the game, and when the offense did get possession of the ball, it wasn't able to accomplish much. The Trojans only had one shot on goal, and Young pointed out several areas where she hopes to see her team improve.
"We're going to work more on stick work and dribbling with the ball on the stick. We had too much hitting it far ahead and trying to catch up. And that doesn't work, so we're going to work on that," Young said.
Juniata (2-0) plays its first Tri-Valley League game against Line Mountain today at 4:00 p.m. Belleville Mennonite (1-1) hosts Huntingdon today.