MIDDLEBURG - Lots of style and flare aren't always necessary for a win. In fact, sometimes a win is gained simply by applying steady pressure on the opponent and slowly chipping away at the defense.
And the Midd-West girls soccer team would probably agree, as that's exactly what the Mustangs did in their 3-0 win over Tri-Valley League foe Juniata at the Midd-West Mustang Classic on Saturday.
The first 28 minutes of the game were marked by a lot of hard work and tough defense on both ends of the field. Both Midd-West and Juniata fought hard for possession of the ball, and each team was able to get off a few shots on goal, but nothing went through as each defense kept the other team at bay.
However, as the clock wound down,the ratio of shots between Midd-West and Juniata began to widen, and the extra time spent in front of Juniata's net eventually resulted in a Mustang goal.
This goal came off the foot of Midd-West's Allie Camp. Her team had slowly been racking up the shots on goal and chipping away at the Indians' defense. So when Camp found a hole open up in front of the net, she took advantage of it for the score. Dribbling right in front of Juniata's net, Camp drew Juniata keeper Joelle Winey out of the goal then gave it a soft kick over Winey's head to make the score 1-0.
This was the only goal of the first half, and both coaches had something to say about their team's performance during the first 40 minutes of the game.
r Midd-West travels to Selinsgrove Tuesday
r Juniata hosts Halifax Wednesday
Juniata coach Brian Strawser thought his team responded well in the first despite being down 1-0.
"I was happy how we responded after that first goal," Strawser said. "We had some moments there where I felt like we applied a lot of pressure on them, and were able to get the ball forward into the attacking third."
Midd-West coach Russ Goodling, although happy to have the lead in the first half, thought his team could have done better.
"The first half I was a bit disappointed even though we were up 1-0. We were pressuring the ball and winning the ball, but then after that we weren't executing our plays-we were kicking it out of bounds or not passing it where we should," he said.
But if Goodling wasn't entirely pleased with his girls' performance in the first half, he had to have been glad with their second half.
Midd-West scored two more goals in the second half for a final score of 3-0. Neither of the goals were fancy, but they were each gained because of the Mustangs' steady pressure on Juniata's defense.
The first goal of the second half came off the foot of Hanna Stauffer, who shot it past Winey after a deflected shot from Midd-West's Kenedi Moyer. The last goal was scored off a direct kick by Camp. The direct kick was awarded to the Mustangs after a trip had been called on the Indians, and while the Indians slowly attempted to set up their wall, Camp kicked it into the net before Juniata was ready.
"We took way too much time to get our wall set up, and they took advantage of it," Strawser said. "They took the shot when we weren't expecting it. That third goal was really disappointing, because we need to be more disciplined than to let something like that happen."
Strawser thought that lack of discipline, such as was displayed in Camp's direct kick, and the inability to follow through offensively were two of the major problems in his team's loss.
"We kind of stall out when we get to the 18. You know, we were able to get the ball to the 18 a couple of times, and then it just kind of stalled out at that point. We're having trouble getting ourselves dangerous once we get into 18 to 20 yards out. And it's something that we've got to work on," Strawser said.
Looking back over the win, Goodling was pleased with his team's performance. Especially in the second half.
"The second half we played a couple minutes slow, but I was much more pleased with our effort the second half. Once they pressured the ball and won it, they were actually playing it where they needed to and doing those types of things," Goodling said.
In Juniata's second game of the tournament, the Indians fell to Loyalsock 1-0. Loyalsock's Morgan Chambers hit a penalty kick with seven minutes remaining in the first half to decide Juniata's fate.
Midd-West went on to win the Mustang Classic after defeating Loyalsock 1-0 in the championship game. Mikayla Beiler scored with 5:24 remaining in the second half on a direct kick foul. She was assisted by Allie Camp.
Midd-West (6-2, 2-2) travels to Selinsgrove on Tuesday. Juniata (4-4, 3-1) hosts Halifax Wednesday.