By Jim Lane
HOLLIDAYSBURG – Tiger Stadium’s turf hasn’t been kind to the Altoona High boys’ soccer team in recent years. In fact, wins have been very hard to come by for the Mountain Lions.
The Mountain Lions beat the Golden Tigers, 3-1, Wednesday afternoon in a game that actually started last week on the grass field in front of Hollidaysburg Area High School.
Thanks to a Chad Allender goal, Altoona jumped out to a 1-0 lead last week before stormy weather hit the area and forced the game to be halted at the 32:21 mark of the first half.
Action picked up Wednesday at Tiger Stadium and the Lions picked up where they left off, scoring early and holding off the Tigers for their fifth win in seven decisions. Hollidaysburg fell to 6-3.
Kristian Mirenda got the Lions rolling when he took control near midfield, weaved his way past a couple of Tiger defenders and ripped one into the net for a 2-0 lead.
“He beat a couple guys,” Altoona coach Dave Alexander said. “He slotted one by. It was a great shot into the corner and there wasn’t much they could do.”
Alexander thought his club had a pretty good [offensive] push the first half, but felt both teams were back and forth the second half.
“We were up 1-0 before we started the continuation here and then we got an early goal,” Alexander said. “It seemed like we had some good chances, but their keeper [Blake Walter] made some good saves one-on-one.
“The second goal in the second half was big,” he said of Caleb Marasco’s score that made it 3-0, “because they battled back. We played well, but you’ve got to give them credit, they really battled back.”
Tyler Miller, assisted by Eric Miller, scored the Tigers’ goal with 7:48 remaining but it was too little, too late.
“I was proud of my team,” Alexander said. “All the guys in the back – Nick Thomas, Dean Maddox, James McCaulley, and Mike Zimmerman – really played well [defensively].
“[Keeper] Joe Smith was solid, too,” Alexander continued. “He didn’t have a lot of shots at him but the ones he had to get were big.”
Hollidaysburg coach Craig Shale was disappointed with his team’s slow start.
“We gave them a goal early last week,” Shale said, “and the last thing we wanted to do was give them a goal early today, but we did and it was 2-0.
“I don’t think we were outplayed but we were outhustled the first 15 minutes,” he said, “and it’s hard to come back from two goals down.
“Altoona played tough,” he noted. “We were outhustled and outmuscled. Altoona wanted it more.”
SCORE BY HALVES
Altoona2 1 – 3
Hollidaysburg 0 1 – 1
First Half: A-Allender (M. Cowan). A-Mirenda (unassisted), 20:08.
Second Half: A-Marasco (Good), 15:40. H-T. Miller (E. Miller), 7:48.
Records: Altoona (5-2); Hollidaysburg (6-3).