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One goal does in Red Devils

EBENSBURG — When No. 4 seeded Central Cambria and No. 5 Juniata kicked off their District 6 Class 2A boys soccer quarterfinal matchup, it turned into an excellent defensive display.

The bad news for the Red Devils, though, is that their defense wasn’t strong enough to keep their season alive.

Juniata’s Dawson Harper worked his way around traffic and put away the game-winning goal in the lower left corner to eliminate the Red Devils, 1-0, on a blustery and rainy Tuesday night at Central Cambria High School.

“They’re a very good team,” CC coach Jason Zaffuto said. “You know you’re always going to get good teams in the playoffs. It was definitely a defensive showing for both sides. It took us awhile to find our opportunities and we definitely started having some in the second half.”

The Devils couldn’t solve Indian keeper Nick Dressler, who made three saves on his way to recording the shutout.

Juniata coach Jared Byler was pleased with how his team bounced back from its early offensive struggles.

“The first half we came out slow, but we really picked up our pace and that allow Dawson to put that ball in the back of the net,” he said. “That goal was started because we were able to string six passes.”

Juniata was able to create a few corner kick opportunities for itself (5-2) and outshot the Devils (5-3).

Byler felt that Central Cambria’s discipline was key for his team to break. He also credited the Indians’ ball control for keeping the Devils off the scoreboard.

“They’re very disciplined in their system of play with their two sweeper backs,” Byler said. “I thought we did a good job controlling the ball, keeping it pinned on their half off the field. I was pleased with how we played, but we got a lot of things to adjust.”

Brock Martin and Cody Roberts did have a prime scoring opportunity off the breakaway, but the opportunity just missed the net for Central Cambria late in the second half.

Tuesday night’s loss for the Red Devils brings the end of the line for an eight-man senior class. Zaffuto is grateful for their contributions to the program and will remember this class for one special trait.

“This is one of the most special senior classes I’ve ever coached,” he said. “From the point that they were freshman year in and year out, they were the tightest knit group. It’s heartbreaking that this is the end for them.”

Zaffuto was appreciative of his team’s effort to just make the postseason after opening the season dropping its first three games.

“We had some struggles early, we refused to quit, we made it a point to work on what we needed to work on,” he said. “We had our opportunities, and unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalize on them tonight.”

Juniata will now play top-seeded Westmont Hilltop, a 4-1 winner over Cambria Heights in the quarterfinals, next Tuesday at a site and time to be announced.

SCORE BY HALVES

Juniata 1 0 — 1

Central Cambria 0 0 — 0

First Half: J–Harper (unassisted), 29:56.

Second Half: No scoring.

Records: Juniata (12-6-1); Central Cambria (12-7).

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