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Bellefonte girls fall to Juniata D6 playoff


WINGATE – They almost defeated the streak.

The Juniata girls soccer team came into its Tuesday night’s meeting with Bellefonte sporting a perfect 20-0-1 record.

In its second round playoff match Bellefonte put a scare in the Indians, posting a 1-0 and then 2-1 advantage.

Un fortunately for the Red Raiders, the Juniata girls fell behind twice early in the contest but rallied back both times to erase one-goal deficits.

The Indians’ leading scorer, Janelle Swartz was clutch when they called her number, putting her team in front for good for the 3-2 victory over the spunky Red Raiders in the second round of the District 6 Class AA playoffs.

However, Bellefonte got a strong effort from goalie Nicole Peggs as she finished with 10 saves. Most of the saves came under crucial and clutch circumstances.

In the second half, the Indians relied on its defense to take it home from there and they did just that allowing only four shots on goal in the final stanza.

“They have nothing to be ashamed of. We are extremely of their effort on the field tonight,” Bellefone coach Stacey Miller said. “We were here last year against Somerset and we lost by one goal last year. So tonight we were in the same situation. Next year I think we will be coming out with fire and ready to be in that championship next year. We are losing just four seniors.”

Both teams got a quick start offensively when each posted a goal within the first 10 minutes.

Juniata started the contest with the first possession but the ball quickly turned over into the Red Raiders offense.

On its first shot on goal of the night, Bellefonte’s Maddison Page took the ball from an Indian defender, turned a blasted a shot past the diving Maddy Marrone, making it 1-0 at the 35:05 mark.

Less than a minute later, a motivated Indian offense drove the ball right down the field on the foot of Elisabeth Ritzman. She blazed her way through the Red Raiders backfield and sent a screamer past Bellefonte goalkeeper Nicole Peggs, tying it at one.

As the clock rolled under 30 minutes, the Red Raider offense was able to put a long possession down in the Indians part of the field.

Most like the first goal, Morgan Brooks was able to find her way through the Juniata 18 and picked up an unassisted goal at 29:26.

For most of the first half, the Bellefonte’s defense was able to keep the Indians’ leading scorer, Janelle Swartz covered and at times double-teamed.

But the Indians played a total team effort as they were able to tie the game thanks to the scoring combination of Kristen Baublitz and Ritzman.

In transition, the two hooked up on a pass when Ritzman found a wide-open Baublitz. Baublitz shot a laser to the corner of the net, tying the game at two.

After almost a full first half of being kept contained, Swartz was able to get away free from the defense as the first stanza started to wind down.

When she got open, Swartz made sure to finish it, pushing the Indians’ third goal of the game and putting her team ahead for the first time in the contest.

As the two teams went into the half, Juniata held a 9-5 advantage in shots on goals and a 1-0 lead in corner opportunities.

Defensively, both teams came out the second half and left everything they had on the field. The game grew more and more physical.

But the Indians were up for the challenge and was able to turn their offense into a strong defense, posting the ball in the Red Raiders’ end for much of the last 20 minutes of play, picking up 13 shots on goal while holding the Red Raiders to four.

“Our defense has like 15 shut outs this year. They (Juniata) have been strong all year. We have all the confidence in the world in our defense. We have a lot confidence in our offense if we get behind. It’s a team effort,” Strawser said. “To have the record we do now you got to have a strong 11 players out there.”

With the team effort, the Indians improve to 21-0-1 on the year while the Red Raiders dropped to 14-4-2.

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