HOLLIDAYSBURG - While 20 minutes seems like a relatively short period of time, it felt like an eternity to Hollidaysburg boys soccer coach Craig Shale.
The Golden Tigers survived an inspired Central Mountain effort in the second half behind two goals from senior forward Tyler Miller as it defeated the Wildcats, 2-0, to make its fifth straight District 6-AAA championship appearance.
"We had to hang on the majority of the second half," Shale said. "Hats off to Central Mountain. There hasn't been a team all season that forced us back like that. They hit two posts, [Hollidaysburg goalie Blake Walter] came up big a couple times, but luckily it went our way."
The Tigers’ Collin?Terchanik shoots against Central Mountain Tuesday night.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
It was the Tigers third victory over Central Mountain this season, after edging the Wildcats by a goal in each of the two previous matchups.
After Hollidaysburg (14-5) controlled much of the scoreless first half, it was able to grab control early in the second.
Tyler Miller was able to handle a rebound just feet away from the net to score the game-deciding goal just 51 seconds into the half.
"We came out ready to play [in the second half]," Miller said. "We took it down the left side, Colin Burns took a shot and I was lucky enough to be right there and put it in."
"The first goal is always important," Shale said. "It turned out to be key. It was a sloppy goal, but a goal is a goal."
Miller's goal was much needed, as the game took a swing in Central Mountain's favor for most of the remainder of the game.
The Wildcats provided themselves with numerous scoring opportunities, the best of which came when Walter was caught out of position, but Central Mountain forward Cullen Byrne sailed his shot wide of the wide open net.
Another golden opportunity came with 12 minutes remaining when Eric Lugg was hauled down just inches outside of the box, but the free kick was blocked away by a wall of Tiger defenders.
If Lugg was taken down inside the box, it would have provided the Wildcats with a penalty shot and a favorable chance to even the score.
"They finished and we didn't," Central Mountain coach Jeff Brinker said. "All three games with Hollidaysburg have been very close. It came down to who could put the ball in the back of the net and we didn't."
Miller's second goal provided the Tigers with a sigh of relief, as he lined up a rebound off an Eric Miller shot from 20 yards out to set up a matchup with two-time defending district champion State College, who has ended Hollidaysburg's season the past two years.
"They have all been good games with State College," Shale said. "They have a great program, but we know we can play with anyone. We'll see what happens. It should be a good one."
Miller and the rest of the Tigers' senior group look forward to a final matchup with the Little Lions.
"They're usually pretty good," Miller said. "We haven't played them this season because they're not on our schedule anymore, but we're looking forward to it. I think we can keep up with them this year."
SCORE BY HALVES
Central Mountain0 0 - 0
Hollidaysburg 0 2 - 2
Second Half: H-T. Miller (unassisted), 39:09; H-T. Miller (E.Miller), 4:08.
Records: Central Mountain (9-7-1); Hollidaysburg (14-5).