Montour defense tough on Tigers

By Dave Mackall

For the Mirror

ALLISON PARK — Hollidaysburg’s players took turns congratulating one another, even as the sting of a 3-0 loss to WPIAL champion Montour was setting in.

This is a close-knit group.

“It’s the best team chemistry we’ve had in my time here,” Hollidaysburg coach Craig Shale said. “There’s no egos, no finger-pointing.”

Unfortunately for the District 6 champion Golden Tigers on Tuesday night, there were no goals, either, against Montour in a first-round game of the PIAA Class 3A boys soccer playoffs at Hampton High School.

Seth Schleicher scored one goal and assisted on another as Montour (17-3-1) passed its first test in the PIAA playoffs.

Nolan Hutter and Brandon Wagner also scored goals for Montour, which three days earlier upset WPIAL top seed West Allegheny in the District 7 championship game.

Hutter’s unassisted goal with just over 11 minutes gone by put Montour ahead 1-0, and it was a struggle the rest of the way for Hollidaysburg (12-9).

“Once they got that first goal, it was only going to get tougher,” Shale said. “They play at such a high level. Their team speed makes them so hard to defend. That first goal was an absolute bullet.”

Schleicher found the back of the net with 11 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the first half to put Montour ahead 2-0 heading into the break.

“Playing a WPIAL schedule definitely prepares you for this,” Montour coach Alex Hobbs said. “Teams just end up beating the crap out of each other. The benefit of that is come time for the state playoffs, you’ve been tested.”

Not so for many District 6 teams, whose numbers pale in comparison — both in total schools and in overall skill level.

A number of Hollidaysburg’s outcomes during the regular season were lopsided scores.

“I’d rather lose a game 1-0 than play a game that you win by 7 or 8 goals,” Shale said. To win in District 6 is nice, but the next step should be to try and win a first-round game in the PIAA playoffs. We’ve yet to do that.”

Hollidaysburg is 0-4 in the PIAA playoffs during Shale’s 14 seasons as coach of the Golden Tigers.

Hollidaysburg’s best scoring chance came in the seventh minute of the second half, when Jacob Roach’s shot in front of the net was blocked by Wagner.

Montour then carried the ball downfield and nearly added another score. But Hollidaysburg goalkeeper Seth Lowey made a nifty stop of Mario Ulizzi’sa shot.

Wagner’s goal at 20:54 of the second half increased the Montour lead to 3-0.

“It was a good season and I’m proud of these guys,” Shale said. “We were in this together. We had a great group of seniors and seven of them were starters.”

SCORE BY HALVES

Hollidaysburg 0 0–0

Montour 2 1–3

First half: M–Nolan Hutter (unassisted), 28:50; M–Seth Schleicher (unassisted), 11:14.

Second half: M–Brandon Wagner (Seth Schleicher), 20:54.

Records: Hollidaysburg (12-9); Montour (17-3-1).

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