STATE COLLEGE - It's said among soccer fans that a two-point lead is a dangerous lead. It's just enough to feel safe, but can easily be overcome by the opposition.
So when the Juniata Mennonite boys soccer team went into the second half against Grace Prep with a 2-0 lead, the Lions decided it was time to get out of the danger zone. By scoring two more goals in the second half, Juniata Mennonite doubled it's lead, and ended the game with a 4-0 win.
It was also the Lions' last game of the season, and so it was nice to end on a high note.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY?KREITZER
Juniata Mennonite’s Tony Gehman, right, scores the first goal of the game as Grace Prep’s Alex Yarrish, left, and Nathan Stahl look on Tuesday in State College.
Two of Juniata Mennonite's four goals were scored on breakaways - the first goal of the game scored by Tony Gehman in the opening half, and the last goal of the game scored by Jesse Watts in the second half - and coach Kurt Wagner credits this to his team's strong play in the midfield.
"What really helped was we had some possesion play going on. When you possess the midfield, then you can wait for those runs and you can time the runs well, and it was working for us tonight," Wagner said.
But it wasn't just the breakaways that were working for Juniata Mennonite. Caleb King scored the Lions' second goal when he shot one from outside the 18, and Gehman notched the Lions' third goal when he took a pass from Watts to put Juniata Mennonite up 3-0.
And in addition to the offense, Juniata Mennonite's defense was also really clicking Tuesday evening. Grace Prep couldn't penetrate the defense, and was required to take shots from way beyond the 18, many of which went wide. But even when Grace Prep did get off a good shot, Juniata Mennonite's keeper, Jacob Metz, wasn't about to let anything into his net.
Metz's biggest test occurred in the second half, when a Grace Prep player got a breakaway straight for Juniata Mennonite's net, but Metz rushed out to meet challenge, and dove on the ball to maintain the shutout.
Wagner was impressed by that particular defensive play.
"Jacob made a really good play there. He had really good form...he met the ball with his hands first, and he made a really good play."
Juniata Mennonite only loses one player to graduation this year, so Wagner is excited to see what the next years will hold. But he's also pleased with the way this season went.
"Our goal was to go over .500 at home, and we achieved that goal," Wagner said. "We missed playoffs by basically one game, so we're just looking to get better every game, and continue to get better every year."