MIFFLINTOWN - Four Tri-Valley League titles in a row is an accomplishment. East Juniata boys soccer coach Don Troutman should know.
That's exactly how many consecutive titles his team has won. This fourth one was clinched after the Tigers' 6-0 win over Juniata on Wednesday.
But after the win, Troutman didn't take much time to think about the TVL title. Rather, he focused on Wednesday's win, crediting his boys for a very well-played game.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
East Juniata’s Spencer Reinford (47) positions himself in front of Juniata’s Wyatt Brackbill to knock down the ball Wednesday evening at Dietrick Field in Mifflintown.
"We possessed the ball really well. Our speed of play was good, and our decision making all over the field was good. We finished our chances," Troutman said.
Everything Troutman said was accurate. The Tigers controlled the ball most of the match. They made smart choices all 80 minutes.
And most of all, they scored.
IF YOU GO
East Juniata travels to Halifax today
Juniata hosts Greenwood Saturday
Not even four minutes into the game, East Juniata got on the scoreboard when Hunter Gingrich took a pass from Nick Lorenz to make the Tigers' first goal. From there, it was only East Juniata that lit up the scoreboard for the rest of the night.
After Gingrich's goal, Landon Sheaffer notched two, Ben Auker found the net and Zane Lauver shot one from the midfield to round off East Juniata's first half scoring.
And that all happened within the first 20 minutes of the game.
It was as if Gingrich's first goal had punched a hole in Juniata's defense, and before the Indians knew it, they were swamped in a 5-0 deficit they would never be able to overcome.
In the second half, East Juniata swapped in a few of its starting players to let the bench get some experience, and these guys weren't going to go down without a goal either.
At 34:27 in the second half, during a Jake Sankey corner, Dalton Shipp took a pass from Nick Stahr to put the final score at 6-0.
"No matter who we had in there, they did a good job," Troutman said.
And perhaps, as East Juniata prepares to enter District 4 Class A competition next week, this solid effort all across the field and throughout the whole bench is an encouraging sign.
East Juniata is the three-time defending champion of District 4, so the Tigers have a lot to protect in the playoffs - but Troutman is feeling good about where his team is right now.
"If we continue to build on what we've got, we're peaking at the right time," Troutman said, looking forward to postseason play.
The Indians, who took the hard end of Wednesday night's loss, also decided to look to the future rather than dwell on the loss.
Juniata coach Clint Brackbill said he was pleased with the intensity his team put forth - the boys just couldn't quite finish any of the chances they created.
"We had some good opportunities, but we're just not rewarding ourselves with the last thing you need to do," Brackbill said.
As far as Juniata's future in districts goes, it's still undecided whether or not the Indians will compete.
Juniata plays in District 6, which is an open tournament, so any team that decides it wants to take part is permitted to do so. Brackbill said he still isn't 100 percent sure, but he thinks Juniata is going to enter the fray.
Maybe his team's heart in the game against East Juniata is part of the reason Brackbill is considering districts.
"Obviously it didn't show on the scoreboard, but if we play with the intensity and the heart that we played with tonight, we have a chance to beat anybody in District 6," Brackbill said.
Regardless of whether or not Juniata enters the district tournament, it still hosts one more TVL match against Greenwood on Saturday. In that one, the Indians will attempt to improve their overall record to 8-10.
East Juniata (14-4, 8-3) travels to Halifax for its last TVL match of the season today, and then awaits the District 4 bracket as the three time defenders.
"We're hoping to make that four," Troutman said.