WINGATE - Kelton Cheney enjoyed some sweet payback Wednesday night.
Cheney and his State College soccer squad were on the losing end of last year's 2-1, double-overtime decision against Hollidaysburg in the District 6-AAA boys championship game at Bald Eagle Area High School's Alumni Field.
On Wednesday, Cheney, a 6-foot-1 senior forward, got the last laugh, scoring three goals against Hollidaysburg as State College won this year's 6-AAA championship game, 4-1 over the Golden Tigers on the same Alumni Field.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Hollidaysburg’s Chris Miller (10) is sandwiched between?State College’s Josh?Clothiaux (left) and Reese Fisher in a battle for the ball.
"I love this trophy,'' said the smiling Cheney, clutching the District 6-AAA championship hardware. "I've never felt better in my life. This is an unspeakable feeling, and I'm in awe. This is a dream.''
A dream that was made more fulfilling by the disappointment that State College endured in losing last season's title game to the Tigers.
"We got completely embarrassed last year, and part of that was on me,'' Cheney said. "To come back like we did this year ... I can't tell you how good it feels.''
Cheney scored two first-half goals and another in the second half as State College (15-1-1) advanced to interdistrict play next week. Hollidaysburg closed its season with a 14-5-1 record that included three losses in as many games to State College.
Cheney, who will continue his soccer career next year on the collegiate level at Penn State, scored all three goals from the middle of the field. He found himself open in front of Hollidaysburg junior goalkeeper Justin Hann 3:57 into the game and beat Hann with a sharp kick that nestled into the lefthand corner of the net.
Less than 13 minutes later, at the 16:47 mark of the period, State College took a 2-0 lead when senior defender Chris Fisher converted an assist from senior midfielder Dieter Bahr. Bahr is the son of former Penn State football placekicking standout Chris Bahr.
"We got behind, 2-0 early in the game, but we realized we could play with them from that point, and I thought our kids gave a good account of themselves for the rest of the game,'' Hollidaysburg coach Craig Shale said.
The Golden Tigers shaved their deficit to 2-1 when junior forward Chris Miller stole the ball in the State College end and booted a kick past senior keeper Josh Bram at the 27:49 mark of the first half.
Less than one minute later, however, State College regained its two-goal lead, 3-1, when Cheney took Bahr's pass with his back to the Hollidaysburg goal, wheeled around, and beat Hann from 25 yards out at the 28:17 mark.
"He's not bad,'' Shale deadpanned with a smile when discussing Cheney. "When a player has his back to the goal, you don't expect a shot like that.''
Hollidaysburg's persistence made things interesting in the second half. Bram flicked aside Chris Miller's chance from the deep right corner seven minutes into the second half, and a free kick by junior forward Zach Franks clanked off the goalpost midway through the half.
"They never gave up,'' veteran State College coach John Marsden said of the Golden Tigers. "They had some chances. Give them credit - they always fight to the end.''
But on a night that Cheney ruled, State College's district championship aspirations were not to be denied.
Cheney put a lock on the game with less than 27 minutes remaining when he scored unassisted after knocking down a loose ball in front of the Hollidaysburg cage and centering up a shot.
"That fourth goal definitely put the lights out,'' Cheney said.
Hollidaysburg graduates five seniors who were in its starting lineup for Wednesday's game, but the Golden Tigers will have six players returning next year who started last night.
"We'll have some big shoes to fill, but we will also have a good nucleus back,'' Shale said.
SCORE BY HALVES
Hollidaysburg 1 0 - 1
State College 3 1 - 4
First Half: 1, SC-Cheney (unassisted), 3:57. 2, SC-Fisher (Bahr), 16:47. 3, HOL-C. Miller (unassisted), 27:49. 4, SC-Cheney (Bahr), 28:17.
Second Half: 1, SC-Cheney (unassisted), 13:12.
Records: Hollidaysburg (14-5-1); State College (15-1-1).