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Sarver scores 4 goals to lead Lady Lions

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Hollidaysburg's Natalie Despot attempts to get a pass by Altoona's Alannah Irwin.

HOLLIDAYSBURG – The Altoona Area High School girls soccer team has a solid nucleus returning this year from last fall’s squad that won the District 6 Class 4A championship.

At the top of the list is talented senior forward Morgan Sarver, a four-year starter and the engine that makes the team go.

“She’s a joy to coach,” Altoona coach Derek Winterburn said of Sarver. “She always takes advice, and the thing that people who aren’t around our program don’t see is that she puts in a tremendous amount of time on her game all year around — whether it’s playing on our team, playing on her club team, or practicing by herself on the IM (intramural) field.

“She’s constantly working on her game, and she’s definitely been a huge part of our program for the last four years.”

All the hard work has paid off for Sarver, who scored four goals Monday night to lead Altoona to a 6-0 victory over Hollidaysburg at Tiger Stadium.

Sarver got Altoona off to a quick start with unassisted goals from in front of the cage just over a minute apart in the first half, then added two goals late in the second half, as Altoona improved its season record to 4-1.

“I think that we moved the ball pretty well tonight, and our speed of play was pretty good,” said Sarver, who will continue her soccer career on the collegiate level next year at Slippery Rock University. “That was kind of our game tonight – to keep the ball moving.”

Sarver beat Hollidaysburg sophomore goalkeeper Sophia Blescia twice, at 9:38 and 10:49 of the first half, and sophomore Hannah Vancas also scored on an assist from sophomore Nicole Hawk at 12:40, as Altoona took a 3-0 halftime lead.

Altoona played excellent positional soccer all night long, outshooting Hollidaysburg, 22-7.

“Early on, we were able to control the possession of the ball and dictate the pace of the game for the first 30 minutes,” Winterburn said.

Hollidaysburg (3-2) didn’t have any real serious scoring chances against Altoona and its junior keeper, Quinn DeAntonio, who made seven saves on long-range shots.

Meanwhile, Altoona had several shots hit off either the crossbar or the goalpost, or the score would have been much more one-sided.

Hollidaysburg freshman Natalie Foster, inserted in goal in the second half, made several outstanding saves in the final 40 minutes, when Altoona scored three times to set the 6-0 final score.

Junior Brooke Thomas converted a corner assist from sophomore Quinn Boslet at the 29:08 mark of the second half for Altoona. With the game out of reach, Sarver scored off a Thomas assist only 1:25 before the end, and then added an unassisted goal with 27 seconds left.

“Altoona is a well-coached team,” said Hollidaysburg coach Dave Soellner, whose team dropped to 3-2. “We play a lot of young kids, and I thought that we played much better in the second half. There toward the end of the game, I think that we just got tired.”

Altoona had a sound defensive strategy in place, according to Sarver.

“Our back line and our goalkeeper both did great tonight,” Sarver said. “Hollidaysburg likes to play a lot of through balls, and our back line dropped back enough to cut off those long passes over the top.”

Game notes: Hollidaysburg won the junior varsity game, 3-1 … Altoona hosts State College Wednesday night, while Hollidaysburg – the defending District 6 Class 3A champions – hosts Bellefonte Thursday night … Altoona and Hollidaysburg will meet again on Thursday, Oct. 7 at Mansion Park.

SCORE BY HALVES

Altoona 3 3–6

Hollidaysburg 0 0-0

First half

1, A–Sarver (unassisted), 9:38. 2, A–Sarver (unassisted), 10:49. 3, A–Vancas (Hawk), 12:40.

Second half

4, A–Thomas (Boslet), 29:08. 5, A–Sarver (Thomas), 38:35. 6, A–Sarver (unassisted), 39:33.

Shots on goal: Altoona 22, Hollidaysburg 7.

Saves: DeAntonio, A, 7; Blescia, H, 5;Foster, H, 11.

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