STATE COLLEGE - The Juniata Mennonite girls had a few sniffles here and there, and maybe an injury or two, but no one would have guessed it Tuesday afternoon as they took a 3-2 win over Grace Prep.
Juniata Mennonite was strong at all points on the field, outshooting Grace Prep 16-5, and overall putting forth a much more aggressive effort than Grace Prep was able to muster. And in the first half of the game, when Juniata Mennonite jumped on top for a 2-0 lead, this aggression turned out to be very beneficial.
Leading the way for the Lions was Alexis Hahn-Kline. She has been a strong scorer for Juniata Mennonite all season long, and Tuesday, during the Lions' last match of the season, Hahn-Kline continued her scoring ways.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY?KREITZER
Juniata Mennonite’s Alexis Hahn-Kline (14) toes the ball past Grace Prep’s Theresa Sicree, center, and Allison Spang (11) Tuesday in State College. Hahn-Kline scored twice in the win.
Hahn-Kline scored her two goals early in the opening half, the first of which was assisted by Lauren Breon, but neither goal was scored in a traditional manner.
The first goal came after Breon shot but just missed, and Hahn-Kline was there to finish for the score. On the second goal, Hahn-Kline again scored in a non-traditional way, when a Grace Prep defender accidentally knocked a deflected Hahn-Kline shot past her keeper and into the goal for a Juniata Mennonite score. As the last Juniata Mennonite player to touch the ball, Hahn-Kline was awarded the goal.
"She's played well just getting those shots in. She has a good left foot. She's really helped us," Juniata Mennonite coach Trish Hoffman said.
Going into the second half, Juniata Mennonite had a 2-0 lead, but it was clear the Lions weren't done yet. Breon, who already had an assist under her belt, made Juniata Mennonite's third and last goal as she dribbled past Grace Prep's defenders, then shot one over the keeper's head at 27:51 in the second half.
From there, with the 3-0 lead, it appeared as if Juniata Mennonite had the game put away, but then the momentum, which had clearly been the Lions' the whole game, began to swing in Grace Prep's favor. And Grace Prep's Samantha Zubler was the catalyst behind this momentum swing.
Less than five minutes after Breon's goal, Zubler put Grace Prep on the board with a 23:39 goal. Then again, at 4:30 left to play, Zubler took advantage of a breakaway and put Grace Prep within one goal of tying the match.
Grace Prep was on a surge, and it began to be unclear which team would come away with the win, but Juniata Mennonite held on for the last four minutes, and prevented Grace Prep from scoring any more goals for a final score of 3-2.
Hoffman thought her girls were tired for the last match of the season, and she thought that may have been why her girls seemed to lose steam during the second half.
"Obviously it's the end of the season. So some the girls have colds and aren't feeling well. We've got a couple injuries," Hoffman said.
But, slow second half or not, Juniata Mennonite ended the season with a win, and that's an accomplishment which any coach can be happy.
Hoffman summed it up well.
"We came off with a win. It was exciting. This year we're 9-7, and that's better than we have been for the past few years, and so that's an exciting accomplishment."