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Local teams come through in playoffs

December 6, 2007
The Altoona Mirror
The 2007 District 6 soccer playoffs on both the boys and girls side of the slate proved to be by far the most interesting in years for all involved.

The Hollidaysburg Lady Tigers looked like a team of destiny, and the fact that they utilized five freshmen in their starting lineup tells much about the potential and power of this team in the future. The Tigers had hammered most of their competition throughout the course of the season with a perfect blend of freshmen and talented upperclassmen.

However, once again State College knocked them off during the regular season with their incredible speed and aggressive play. It definitely would take their best effort to beat the Lady Little Lions in the district final, and that’s exactly what the Golden Tigers got in their one timely goal victory margin. They went on to defeat Dubois in the first round of state playoffs before falling to a very strong Downingtown team.

This is a team with sights much higher than a district championship in the next three years. Many of the freshmen have been part of a State Cup championship team with coach Mike Vladic. A PIAA championship is more than a strong possibility in the next two-to-three years. No one should be surprised if they bring home the gold in the next couple of years.

The District 6 boys tourney looked like a tossup going in to the playoffs. Altoona had beaten State College earlier in the season but was unable to handle Hollidaysburg and was swept, and Central Mountain sported a very competitive team, as always.

Altoona, slightly over .500, had the strongest lineup on paper but had not been consistent. That is until crunch time with State College in the playoffs. Dominated by State in the first half, Altoona played what may have been the greatest second half of soccer in school history.

The Mountain Lions lit up State College for three goals in about 20 minutes and wrestled the District 6 crown away from State College, which has literally owned the title for the last decade. State College coach John Marsden expressed a great deal of difficulty accepting such an incredible comeback by Altoona. The Lions fell in the next round to eventual state champ Peters Township. Many of the Peters Township players are part of the elite Beadling Classic squad, which has won numerous State Cup titles.

n Hats off to Mike Morgan, voted Altoona’s most valuable player, since in addition to his on-field heroics, he gives a great deal back to younger players as he can be seen refereeing U-10 and U-12 games nearly every weekend during the spring and fall travel seasons. Referees have become extremely scarce, and it’s great to see a talented younger player step up and give back to the game and younger players. He is definitely a candidate for youth referee of the year on the district and state level.

n Indoor soccer is just beginning to heat up with the Summit’s first session already under way. What is interesting is the over-20 and over-30 age bracket interest in the fast-paced small court walled game. There is a great deal of adult talent to be found in the league with former standout scholastic players involved with the leagues. The Summit will host three tournaments this winter including its own, the Polar Challenge and the Meltdown Tournament. Each should feature more than 100 teams.

Tom Schmitt’s local soccer column appears monthly.

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