COCOLAMUS - It didn't take long for East Juniata to score its first goal against Juniata Thursday.
But it was a close game until the second half, when a depleted Indian squad surrendered three quick goals on the way to a 5-0 East Juniata victory in Tri-Valley League field hockey.
"The first half was sloppy - we had so many fouls," East Juniata coach Billie Haines said. "We hit our feet, we were dribbling into our own girls. We were not impressive."
Sentinel photo by JEFF?FISHBEIN
Juniata goalie Katie Searer (99) repels a first-half shot by East Juniata’s Serina Spancake, left, while East Juniata’s Courtney Elsasser covers the far post Thursday in Cocolamus. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com.
But the Tigers were in control the whole time, because even at full strength, Juniata was unable to get the ball across the midfield stripe. If East Juniata had not been its own worst enemy in that half, the score could have gotten worse in a hurry.
"That's in most games, just to get offense going," Juniata coach Becky Loy said. "We're starting to hit the ball, but we have so many people back that we don't have attackers to push forward."
The first goal came barely two minutes into the game when Lydia Koser played the ball across the circle to Courtney Elsasser, who turned it back with a second effort to give the Tigers an early lead.
IF YOU GO
* East Juniata hosts Huntingdon Saturday
* Juniata travels to Greenwood Monday
But play in the circle was not the strong point for the Tigers most of the afternoon. Along with the fouls that caused turnovers instead of penalty corners - there was just one awarded in the contest, about 10 minutes after the goal - there were passes to nowhere that brought the ball back out. Haines was pleased with the effort of Hunter Hepner, who was manning the center early in the game in place of Stephanie Dressler, but said things broke down when the ball left her stick.
"I think Hunter did a great job in the center. She was sending the ball into the circle and she seemed to be on top of it," Haines said. "I feel like we missed a lot of balls in the circle. It would just pass three of our girls, over and over and over again."
Juniata didn't even cross the midfield stripe until there were fewer than five minutes to play in the half, and the Indians didn't get inside the 18 until the second - and still never got a shot off. But any hope of an upset was snubbed when a ball struck a Juniata player in the knee; she and a teammate who was hit in the continuing play until East Juniata lost advantage left the game, leaving the Indians two shy of a full complement for the duration.
That proved fatal for Juniata in a brief span early in the second. Elsasser scored two more, and assisted on another. Dressler scored a pair. And Koser and Alleighcia Hepner each had helpers as four balls went in the cage over a seven-minute span, the first three across four minutes.
But the Juniata defense stood up after that, preventing any further damage.
"I thought we held together pretty good having that many people back there who never played defense," Loy said. "I thought our goalie did well."
Juniata (4-9, 0-9) travels to Greenwood for the second game of a split doubleheader Monday. East Juniata (11-4, 6-3) hosts Huntingdon Saturday.