The Hollidaysburg Gol-den Tigers were runnersup in the District 6, Class AAA soccer playoffs a year ago, and they have hopes of winning the championship this time around.
Based on their performance Monday night, that's a distinct possibility.
Chris Miller scored three goals, David Katz scored one and added a pair of assists and keeper Justin Hann was outstanding in the nets as the Tigers blanked Altoona, 4-0, at Mansion Park.
Mirror photo by Gary Baranec
Hollidaysburg’s Zach Viduya (right) battles Altoona’s Chris Reighard for the ball during first-half action Monday night.
"When we're on, we're as good a team as there is," Hollidaysburg coach Craig Shale said, smiling. "We have plays where we just keep moving forward.
"A lot of these guys have been playing together two or three years, and it really shows," he said. "They move for each other. They hit the passing lanes. That's tough to defend. "
Actually, most of the Tigers' six seniors have been playing together since their days in AYSO when they were only 5 and 6 years old.
"Chris Miller, Zach Franks, me ... we've been playing together since we were about 5," Katz said. "We like to play quick, and it's been working well this year."
"I guess I just had a good night," Miller said, downplaying his hat trick. "I really haven't score that much in recent games."
The Tigers lost to Kiski Prep in their previous game, and Miller said it was important to bounce back against rival Altoona.
"We didn't play well [against Kiski]," Miller said, "but I think we showed we're better than that tonight. It was important for us to step up and make a statement and show that maybe we can win districts this year."
Altoona coach Dave Alexander was disappointed with the Mountain Lions' showing.
"They were just better than we were tonight," Alexander said. "It seemed like we didn't come out with a whole lot of intensity and, once again, we got behind at the beginning.
"You can't get behind them," Alexander said, "because they've got some quality guys. We just didn't play well, and, at this point in the season, they're better than we are."
Down 2-0 at the half, Altoona missed a golden opportunity early in the second half [38:21] when Chris Reighard's shot hit the top of the crossbar.
"If that goes in, it might help us a little bit," Alexander said, "but, still, they played better than we did. We have a long way to go."
After Miller's third goal made it 3-0, Hann made outstanding saves against Danny Cowan and Nick Beckel, and Katz wrapped it up with a penalty kick goal with 18:19 remaining.
"Miller is like the end product of the passing, and that's the beauty of it," Shale said. "We've got playmakers and they're unselfish. When Chris gets his chances, he's going to put them away.
"This was some of the best soccer I've seen played at Hollidaysburg in a few years," noted Shale, who has posted 108 wins in nine years as the Tigers' coach.
SCORE BY HALVES
Hollidaysburg2 2 - 4
Altoona 0 0 - 0
First Half: H-C. Miller (Franks), 21:57; H-C. Miller (Katz), 15:38.
Second Half: H-C. Miller (Katz), 29:23; H-Katz (penalty), 18:19.
Records: Hollidaysburg (5-1); Altoona (3-4).
JV: Altoona won, 6-2. Altoona goals: Cox 2, Laich, Good, McCaulley, Marasco.