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Tigers come alive in 2nd half

Photo for the Mirror by Tim O’Brien Hollidaysburg’s Shushant Dahal shoots on PC keeper Reed Niebauer.

HOLLIDAYSBURG – After seemingly having every shot possible get turned aside in the first half, Hollidaysburg boys soccer coach Craig Shale reminded his team of one simple message.

“I told them at halftime the worst thing you can do is get frustrated,” he said. “Just keep playing your game. We played really well for the first 15, 20 minutes, then we kind of got away from it.”

That messaged was received loud and clear.

The No. 2-seeded Golden Tigers finally broke through 57 minutes into the match when Braden Callahan, on an assist from Shushant Dahal from around the 20-yard line, found the back of the net as they went on to shut out No. 3 Penn Cambria, 3-0, in the District 6 Class 3A semifinals Monday night at Tiger Stadium.

That comes after a first half where the Golden Tigers had six shots on goal in just the first 11 minutes. They ended up having nine on goal to just one for the Panthers in the opening frame.

“It was just a matter of time,” Shale said. “They just hang in there; their keeper was in the right place in the right time. We definitely needed that first goal just to calm the nerves a little bit. Penn Cambria played well.”

Panther coach Nick Wanyo wasn’t surprised by Hollidaysburg’s play.

“It was one of those games that we knew they were going to be a possessive team coming in,” he said. “We were fine with them taking shots from the outside, (Panther goalie Reed Niebauer is a) very experienced keeper, we knew he’d be fine.

“One mental lapse on defense — it was tough after we let the first one in, and the second one. They fought hard.”

It took the Tigers almost another 20 minutes before they found the back of the net, and this time it was on another long distance shot from Parker Zonts to make it 2-0 with just under five minutes to go.

Hollidaysburg added one more for good measure just over a minute later by Andrew Wolford.

“It took awhile to get back into (our game) in the second half,” Shale said. “We needed a goal. They could’ve easily gotten one out of the blue. We get that first goal, then I knew we’d get one or two more.”

The Panthers — who will say goodbye to seven seniors — finished the season at 8-6, and for Wanyo, this class will hold a special place with him.

“I got hired three years ago, and they were my project,” he said. “They were sophomores. I hoped for a big year this year. It hurts we moved up to Triple-A because Hollidaysburg is a very tough team, but they fought well this year.

“I wish we would’ve done more; I know they wish we would’ve gone further, but this senior class was a great class. I’ll never forget them.”

The Tigers’ focus is now on winning their fourth district title in the last five years as they take on Tyrone at 8 p.m. Thursday at Altoona’s Mansion Park.

“We’re the team to beat,” he said. “We’re the biggest school. We expect to win District 6. We don’t care who we play. We’re looking forward to it.”

SCORE BY HALVES

Penn Cambria 0 0 – 0

Hollidaysburg 0 3 – 3

First Half: None.

Second Half: 1, H–Callahan (Dahal), 57:24. 2, H–Zonts (Frank), 75:30. 3, H–Wolford (unassisted) 76:45.

Shots on Goal: Hollidaysburg 20, Penn Cambria 2. Saves–Niebauer, PC, 17; Shale, H, 2.

Records: Penn Cambria (8-6); Hollidaysburg (7-5).

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