Freshman Bell wins it for Tigers
By Jon Fleck
For the Mirror
The Altoona girls soccer team entered its game against Hollidaysburg looking to put pressure on the Lady Tigers’ backline. The Lady Lions did that for long stretches of the game but couldn’t put the ball in the net.
Hollidaysburg (11-4-1) began a stretch of three road games in three days to close out the regular season with a 1-0 win over rival Altoona Tuesday at Mansion Park.
Freshman Alyssa Bell scored from right in front of the goal with 7:26 left to break the scoreless tie, and Hollidaysburg held on the rest of the way.
“Jenna (Heim) followed it in, knocked it out of the goalie’s hands and I was just there,” Bell said. “The ball was bouncing around. I got a foot on it, and it went in.”
Altoona possessed the ball more and had more scoring opportunities, several of which were just wide of the net.
“We had a bunch of really, really good chances. I lost count after a while. From talking to girls, it was just a foot or so three or four times,” Altoona coach Derek Winterburn said. “Compared to the last time we played them I feel like possession-wise we played really, really well. We were putting so much pressure on their backline. That’s what we wanted. That’s what we talked about getting ready for it. Pressure, pressure, pressure. We just didn’t finish. It happens. That’s the game sometimes.”
The game-winning goal started with a Mandy Sky corner kick.
“It was corner that got sent back out by the defense. Since I was already out there, I just sent it back in,” Sky said.
Altoona keeper Julia Lane played the ball but lost it in a collision with Heim.
“Julia went up. She made a play on the ball. They ran into her, and she didn’t come down with it cleanly. They had somebody there and finished. Hats off to them. They beat us,” Winterburn said.
Hollidaysburg tried to spread the field and attack Altoona wide with little success, however.
“Altoona does well anticipating up the middle. We were trying to get the ball wide and stay wide, but it seemed like we were playing quicksand at times,” Hollidaysburg coach Dave Soellner said. “That may be due in part to the long season, but we’ve got to keep going. We have another road game (Wednesday) and another after that Thursday.”
Altoona started eight freshman and sophomores. Seniors Amber Knott and Jennifer Worley and junior Grace Dull were the lone upperclassman in the starting lineup.
“With us being as young as we are, it’s a roller coaster sometimes. One day they’ll play brilliant, next day not so brilliant,” Winterburn said. “Whenever you let a game stay that close, something’s bound to happen, either good or bad.
Hollidaysburg keeper Meghan Cutshall backstopped the shutout with another solid performance between the pipes.
“Meghan did a really nice job. She was anticipating a lot of the balls coming through,” Soellner said. “You have to do that. You can’t sit back on your heels. You have to anticipate. You have to read. She does that. I have a lot of confidence in her.”
Combined with a 3-0 win over Altoona early last month, Hollidaysburg sweeps the season series between the two teams.
Hollidaysburg plays at Dubois today and at Conemaugh Township Thursday. Altoona finishes up the regular season this week as well with games at Central Mountain Thursday and at Conemaugh Township Saturday.
“We did not play our best. We all know that. We need to get the ball off our foot a little quicker,” Bell said. “We’re hoping to go 3-0 this week and have a winning streak going into the playoffs.”
SCORE BY HALVES
Hollidaysburg 0 1 — 1
Altoona 0 0 — 0
Second half: Bell (Sky), 7:26.
Records: Hollidaysburg (11-4-1); Altoona (9-7).
JV: 3-0, Altoona.