WILLIAMSPORT - No. 2, meet No. 47.
Second-seeded Bloomsburg had no answer for East Juniata's Spencer Reinford, who had a career outing against the Heartland Conference Division III champions, handing the Panthers just their second loss of the season, a 7-2 rout in Wednesday's District 4 Class A boys soccer semifinal at Balls Mills Soccer Complex.
The win clinches a state playoff spot for the Tigers, but more important, sets up a showdown with Benton on Saturday, where East Juniata will defend its District 4 title for the third straight year. Benton advanced on a 2-1 overtime win over top seed Northeast Bradford. The site and time of the game will be announced later.
East Juniata's Spencer Reinford, left, heads a ball toward the Bloomsburg goal over the head of the Panthers' Tristan Wright (10) and teammate Nick Lorenz (6) Wednesday in a District 4 Class A boys soccer semifinal at Balls Mills. Reinford scored four goals and assisted on three others in the Tiger victory.
Bloomsburg's success in this game lasted exactly 98 seconds, which was the time elapsed when the Panthers' speedy forward, Jonathan Nixon, beat Bailey Coder to a ball at the top corner of the box, then beat Adam Strawser to dent the net for the first time.
Make that, the only time - at least, until it no longer mattered. The Panthers scored a second time in the final minute of the game, long after East Juniata had cleared the bench.
The first goal was an example of the one thing Tiger coach Don Troutman was worried about coming in - the Panthers had speed up front, and ball-handling skills that were good enough to go head to head with his team. So he moved Reinford from defense to the front line.
*East Juniata plays Benton Saturday
"After they scored he said, 'Don't give them any space, mark them up tight,'" Reinford explained. "Once they're gone, they're gone, as you could see."
"When they got that early goal, we just felt like we wanted to get one back quickly, and that would get us started," Troutman said. "It did - and (Reinford) was on fire tonight."
Fire? More like napalm - Reinford scorched the Bloomsburg defense. It seemed that all he had to do was touch the ball, and it turned into an East Juniata goal. If he wasn't scoring the goal, he was delivering the ball to someone who would.
Seven times in a row.
The first goal actually came off the side of his foot, tying the score 17 minutes into the first half. Six minutes later, with Panther keeper Colin Warren on the ground, Reinford scored again. And a minute and a half after that, he crossed one to Nick Lorenz, whose goal stood as the game winner when it was over.
"They had two guys on him for awhile - they had three guys on him at one point," Troutman said. "And when they did that, he laid the ball off and we had other guys finish."
The hat trick was his with eight minutes still to play before the break. He notched one more before that - all of them unassisted.
"I just play my game, try to be a team player and not hog the ball too much," Reinford said. "Coach puts me up top, he pretty much wants goals. I just try to do my thing."
He got on the score sheet twice more, assisting on second-half goals by Landon Sheaffer and Jake Sankey. After that, the main reason he wasn't scoring was because he shifted back to defense.
Up next for the Tigers is a chance to cement a place in history, as the senior class looks to win a district title in each season it has taken the field.
"It's a chance for them to make a mark for sure. It's a great group of seniors, it's a great group of kids," Troutman said. "I think we've had really good senior leadership. They pretty much know where each other's going to be, and that's been some of our success. They've really learned to trust each other."