WINGATE - Second-seeded Hollidays-burg had rallied from two goals down to tie the game at 2-2, and goalkeeper Justin Hann had made some big saves on State College attempts.
But, just as the District 6 Class AAA boys soccer championship appeared to be headed toward overtime, State College's Joe Thomas turned the Golden Tigers' Halloween chillier than the cold, damp Wednesday night conditions they were playing in at Alumni Stadium.
Thomas' third goal - on a breakaway - came with 2:50 left in the game and gave the top-seeded Little Lions a 3-2 win. It was the Lions' second straight district title.
Photo for the Mirror by Christopher Shannon
Hollidaysburg’s Tyler Miller battles State College’s Ngamassi Herrman in the District 6-AAA title game.
"It's obviously disappointing," Hollidaysburg coach Craig Shale said. "We got ourselves back in the game. We gave them two goals. It could have been anybody's game. I thought it was going to go overtime, but they took their chance well."
"We've not trained for six days," State College coach Dan Ortman said. "So, it was a bit difficult. I think it was quite exciting. Usually, we're a little more comfortable on the ball, but we were a little bit more panicky because Hollidaysburg would go through the middle of the field. In the end, we got a break."
The Lions (12-5-2) got two goals in the first 17:46 from Thomas, but Shale wasn't worried.
"We've got goal-scorers on this team," Shale said. "There's no way we were going to get shut out. We've got some kids that can strike a ball. It was good to get that goal just to go back at halftime 2-1."
Hollidaysburg (13-4-1) got on the board with a goal from Zach Franks, who booted one from about 35 yards past starting goalie Nate Davis.
The Tigers tied it with an Eric Miller goal 6:51 into the second half past backup goalie Ty Leway. Some of the players on both teams play on the same traveling team in the offseason, so it was fitting it came down to the end.
In a very physical second half, Thomas slipped away from a Tiger defender and scored his third goal.
"Tonight was his game," Ortman said. "He missed another breakaway, and I'll talk to him about that later on. He's a good player."
Hann, a senior who came into the district title game two years ago off the bench and had a big game, made eight saves in this one, including a couple off boots right in front of the net.
"Justin is a great goalkeeper," Ortman said. "I think in the first half, he might have saved one with his face. I know a couple years ago he won it for Hollidaysburg against State College with an unbelievable performance."
The Tigers had one last chance when Franks' shot went over the goal with a minute left in the game.
"It thought we took it to them," Shale said. "They [State College] are a good team. They played a tough schedule, but our guys gave as good as they got. I thought we gave them a great game.
"We didn't have the tough schedule that State College had, but we played well as a team, and I think we showed it tonight."
SCORE BY HALVES
State College2 1 - 3
Hollidaysburg 1 1 - 2
First Half: SC-Thomas (Christie), 35:38; SC-Thomas (unassisted), 22:14; H-Franks (unassisted), 9:26.
Second Half: H-Miller (unassisted), 33:09; SC-Thomas (Edwards), 2:50.
Records: State College (12-5-2); Hollidaysburg (13-4-1).