State College still showing its D6 dominance

WINGATE — The Altoona boys soccer team defeated State College in a regular-reason match just a couple of weeks ago, and first-year coach Dave McCarter thought that was a huge mental hurdle for his team to overcome. Afterall, the Mountain Lions had not defeated the Little Lions since 2007.

On Tuesday, however, State College proved once again why it entered the District 6 4A championship game as five-time defending champions.

The Little Lions scored two first-half goals, including a crucial goal with under a minute left in the first half, as Altoona was shut out, 6-0, at Bald Eagle Area High School.

State College claimed its sixth straight District 6 4A title and advances to the PIAA tournament where it will play McDowell on Saturday at a site and time to be announced.

McCarter also serviced as an assistant on Altoona’s staff for 17 years prior to being named  head coach before the season.

“We knew we could play with (State College) after our match a few weeks ago,” McCarter said. “We came in positive, loose and confident, but they are a fantastic, road-tested team that plays in a tough conference.”

State College’s Eli Bokunewicz opened the scoring just over six minutes into the game that gave the Little Lions an early lead.

Ten minutes later, Altoona senior Evan Cardoza streaked down the middle of the field, split two State College defenders, and rung a shot off of the crossbar from 30 yards out that proved to be the Mountain Lions’ best scoring opportunity in the game.

State College’s Devin Morrison delivered a crucial blow to Altoona as he scored on an assist from Fernando DelCastillo with 47 seconds left in the first half that put the Mountain Lions down two goals.

“Before halftime, I thought if we can get out of the half down 1-0 we were in great shape,” McCarter said. “We had a couple of good looks, and Evan’s shot was so close to tying it at 1-1. (State College’s second goal) made it difficult on us.”

“Our second goal was huge for us,” State College coach Danny Orton said. “We had plenty of good scoring chances, but up 1-0 the game was still wide open, so to score that goal was fantastic and really allowed us to play with more freedom.

Altoona never seriously threatened in the second half, and DelCastillo scored a pair of goals just over a minute and a half apart 13 minutes into the second half that put the game well out of Altoona’s reach.

Jacob Krantweiss and Marc Rodgers added goals late in the second half for the Little Lions.

“Tonight was one of our best District 6 championship performances,” Orton said. “We played faster than the first time we played Altoona and when the timing was right to score we were in great position. We were a lot sharper in all areas.”

Altoona will graduate five seniors from its squad, four of which were starters for multiple seasons.

“We graduate a fantastic group,” McCarter said. “They are all gamers and get off of the bus and play hard every day. Jake (Deterline) was penciled in as our goalie since he was a sophomore. Leroy Henry is a physical, strong defender that does it all. Evan Cardoza has always been a leader for us and does everything well, and Matt Cowan was a four-year starter on defense for us and had great size.  They should all be proud of their seasons and their careers here.”

SCORE BY HALVES

Altoona    0  0 — 0

State College     2  4 — 6

First half: SC–Bokunewicz (unassisted), 6:41; SC–Devin Morrison (DelCastillo), 39:13.

Second half: SC–DelCastillo (unassisted), 52:12; SC–DelCastillo (unassisted), 53:44; SC–Krantweiss (DelCastillo), 58:47; SC–Rodgers (unassisted), 79:16.

Records: Altoona (12-6); State College (13-6).

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