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Heights ousted

JOHNSTOWN — The boys soccer season for Cambria Heights came to a close Tuesday as the Highlanders fell, 4-1, to Westmont Hilltop in a quarterfinal District 6 Class 2A contest at Trojan Stadium.

The eighth-seeded Highlanders (7-8-4) gave the unbeaten and top-seeded Hilltoppers (19-0-0) all they could handle for the majority of the first half, as the squads battled to a 1-1 tie before Westmont’s Conner Oechslin knocked in the go-ahead goal with 7:35 left before the break.

“Early on, I felt we played really well defensively,” Heights coach Adam Strasser said. “We won the ball in the middle, and we were able to distribute from our defense.

“We had a lot of good passing from the outside.”

Westmont subsequently put the game out of reach in the second half with a pair of goals, while the Hilltopper defense kept the Highlanders from generating very many scoring opportunities. The Hilltoppers outshot the Highlanders 17-2.

Oechslin finished with a hat trick for the Hilltoppers, while Ian Buday picked up a goal and an assist for Westmont.

“We were trying to force passes in the first half,” said Westmont coach Jason Hughes, whose team will advance to face fifth-seeded Juniata in the second round at a site and time to be determined. “We weren’t moving in space and weren’t playing our game plan.

“We got back on track in the second half and started distributing the ball, finding the open man and spreading the field.”

Westmont Hilltop opened the scoring 7:24 into the game when Oechslin found the net from 20 yards out, but Cambria Heights answered at the 19:39 mark when sophomore forward George Campbell took a feed from freshman Mason Eckenrode, who found an opening in the Hilltopper defense and beat goalkeeper Will Gerow to knot it 1-1.

“Last year, we lost nine seniors after playing in the district semifinals,” Strasser said. “We knew it was going to be a rebuilding year with only three seniors coming back.

“We were really young and got better as the year went on. We grew through the season and got better day by day,” added Strasser. “Up until today, no team scored more than two goals against us.

“Our three seniors, Casey Weakland, Landon Smeal and Jake Gallaher, bridged the gap for us, and their leadership showed as we made the playoffs again this year.”

SCORE BY HALVES

Cambria Heights 1 0 — 1

Westmont Hilltop 2 2 — 4

First Half: WH–Oechslin (unassisted) 7:24; CH–Campbell (Eckenrode) 19:39; WH–Oechslin (Buday) 32:25.

Second Half: WH–Buday (Zagorski) 43:01; WH–Oechslin (Milkie) 74:51.

Goalkeepers: CH–Gallaher 17 shots-13 saves; WH–Gerow 2 shots-1 save.

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