MILL HALL - In any sport, it is difficult to face a team three times in one season.
It is extremely tough when that third game happens to be the semifinals in the district tournament.
After splitting the regular season series, that is exactly what happened when Hollidaysburg came to Malinak Stadium to square off with Central Mountain.
Photo for the Mirror by Nate Wilson
Hollidaysburg keeper Peyton Civils collides with Johnna Garbick.
"It is extremely difficult," Central Mountain coach Ryan Veltri said. " They started to get used to you and your players and understand what you do."
With a trip to the District 6 Class AAA finals on the line, Hollidaysburg walked away victorious, 1-0, on Tuesday.
"I thought it was a well-played game by both sides," Hollidaysburg coach Dave Soellner said. "Central Mountain has a tremendous group of kids and you know they are coming to battle. It is very difficult to beat a team like them after seeing them twice already."
Each team pushed the tempo in a back-and-forth game, with neither defense willing to give in.
For most of the first half, it looked like a track meet broke out on Malinak Stadium, as both teams flew up and down the pitch, just looking for a chance.
Hollidaysburg had the first opening - in the 36th minute of play.
Lady Tiger Michele Muir scored a ball in front of the CM goal off a corner kick and chipped a ball out of a scrum into the back the net.
"I was thrilled with Muir's goal." Soellner said. "We worked on set pieces this week and a lot of games come down to them - especially in district playoffs."
Muir's goal was all Hollidaysburg's Peyton Civils needed.
CM applied the pressure to Civils and the Tiger defense, but could not break through.
"I am very happy with Civils' performance," Soellner said. "She works hard every day and being a junior, I am glad she is back next year. She did well. We worked on her being more vocal and communicating with her defense. She did that well tonight. Tonight I give her an A-plus."
For the night, Civils came up with eight saves - including a barrage of shots late in the game.
"I am very proud, but I couldn't do it without my defense," Civils said. "We have a great group of seniors and it was nice to get that win for them. As the clock was winding down, I was excited but didn't want to jinx us by thinking we were going to win too early."
For the final 20 minutes of the game, Central Mountain fought hard to keep the attack on Hollidaysburg. The Lady Wildcats outshot Hollidaysburg, 14-6.
"In the last few games, we have dominated the stats in terms of shots," Veltri said. "I was happy with our attack. We just didn't have an end piece."
For its reward, Hollidaysburg will face State College on Thursday for the District 6 Class AAA title.
"We are going to regroup tomorrow and put a game plan together," Soellner said. "It is going to be a nail-biter for sure. It will be the first time we'll face State College this year. Anything can happen in districts. We need to focus on one game at a time."
SCORE BY HALVES
Hollidaysburg1 0 - 1
Central Mountain0 0 - 0
First Half: 1, H - Muir, 4:37.