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D6 title bound; Lady Eagles quick scoring run tops Juniata

Photos by John Espigh
By Kenny Varner

WINGATE – It was post season at its best Monday at Bald Eagle High School when the Mountain League champion Bald Eagle girls soccer team met up with Tri-Valley League runner up, Juniata.

Both teams battled back and forth stalemate for most of the game before The undefeated Lady Eagles notched two goals within a minute to punch their card to the District 6 Class AA championship game Thursday, winning 2-0.

It would be both defenses that shined today, especially on the Bald  Eagle side as it captured the win in a shut out.

“Our Defense was just lights out tonight. They’ve been like that all season. They’re our cornerstone,” said Bald Eagle coach Jared Moore. “They win the ball in the back and push it right up. They all have good foot skills and they do a really good job at locking down their forwards. I was really impressed with them today. Rachel (Veneziano) did an outstanding job in the goal. They all stepped up to the plate today.”

Veneziano was everywhere she needed to be as she saved nine shots while her team blasted 24 shots and five corner opportunities.

Juniata was equally tough for all but a short one minute time frame.

Goalie Hailey Kepner managed to keep the explosive Lady Eagles’ offense scoreless for 54 minutes.

Overall, Kepner helped keep the Lady Indians within striking distance capturing 15 saves.

Offensively, the Indians were able to take 14 shots the Eagles’ way and collect three corners.

“Once they scored. I thought we held our heads a minute or two. Then they got the second goal and that’s what gave them the momentum. We kind of quit playing, “said Juniata coach Laresa Paden. “We worked hard but then we panicked. We had a great season and a great group of girls and great seniors.”

After a scoreless first half, the two teams picked up its intensity where they left off in the first, each having their moments.

The Eagles spark plug, Addison Proctor spearheaded the pressure in the Juniata end for much of the game.

Juniata’s defense was up for the challenge and kept sending the Lady Eagles empty handed.

But as the clock started to wind down under the 30-minute mark, the Eagles started to move the ball down steadily in the Indians’ back third.

But the Indians stole the ball and moved it front of the Eagles goal and blasted a shot that hit the side pole of the goal, just missing giving Juniata the lead.

Seconds later, the ball was sent right in front of the Eagles’ goal and a barrage of shots at the goal proved for not as the back-line and Veneziano kept the Indians at bay.

After the stop, the ball quickly rolled downfield as Falen McHenry got the ball down into the Juniata end and sent a side pass to Proctor. Proctor, still in stride, sent it home, making it a 1-0 lead with 26:32 left.

Seconds later, McHenry brought the ball up again quickly and took it right at the goal. She finished a shot off sliding at the goalie and sent it home, adding an insurance goal at 2-0.

From there, Bald Eagle was able to take everything the Indians threw at them and kept them off the board the rest of the way en route to the 2-0 victory.

It was a nail biter from the very beginning as each team team tried to establish its tempo and momentum early on.

There were numerous blasts at both goals but the combination of the defensive back fields and goalies, kept the game at a scoreless tie.

Bald Eagle had an early free kick but it was stopped by Kepner and company.

But in the end, the Eagles were able to keep its unbeaten streak intact and now moved onto to the District 6 title tilt against Bedford Thursday at Mansion Park in Altoona.

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