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Montoursville gains valuable experience in loss to state-ranked Jays

Tuesday’s game against Central Columbia was far from the first tough game Montoursville played this year. It likely won’t be the last, either.

The Warriors knew the Blue Jays were solid from top to bottom and had speed which is tough to match. But then again, that’s what you would expect from a team ranked in the state.

Montoursville lost to Central Columbia, 4-1, but that was valuable experience for the Warriors with the district tournament a week away.

“We don’t have a ton of speed on the team this year. We’re not a real quick team, so we just have to play different tactics and we’re pleased with how the girls competed (Tuesday),” Montoursville coach Vic Gorini said. “We need to see where we stood competing with them as we go forward in districts and we feel good about our opportunities now.”

The Warriors had to face second-ranked Bloomsburg earlier this season and then the Blue Jays — a team which received honorable mention votes for the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association small school rankings — Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium.

“Our district is states. To get through our district we have to beat 16 teams and two are ranked in the top 4 or 5 in the state,” Gorini said. “So it’s exciting. That’s why soccer’s exciting around here.”

Tuesday’s game started with excitement when Montoursville scored just 70 seconds into the game, stunning Central Columbia’s defense.

Alexa Ulmer got her leg up high to send a shot just past the fingertips of Central keeper Alaina Humphrey for the 1-0 lead. And while the Warriors played Central Columbia tough in the first half, the Blue Jays kept pressing and finally broke through with an equalizer.

Kayla Keefer got inside the 18 and buried a shot toward the left post to make it a 1-1 game with 21:38 left in the half. Seven minutes later, it was Madelyn Blake who rifled a shot to the left post from the 18 for a 2-1 lead.

“The girls are really good at overcoming. I even remarked about that at halftime,” Central Columbia coach Kelly Calvert said. “They don’t let it get into their head and I knew we just had to play our game and I knew in time things would be falling into place.”

The Warriors were limited to just three shots on goal, but did fire eight throughout the night, having numerous go just over the crossbar or sent wide to either side of the net.

Central Columbia’s back line made things difficult for Montoursville. The Blue Jays used their speed to track down every throughball the Warriors had. Often they forced Montoursville to go wide and not get a great look at the goal.

“The speed in the back really helps us play a game to condense further up the field, and we do rely on that,” Calvert said. “It’s great defensively for us.”

The Blue Jays scored with less than 10 minutes until halftime to make it a two-goal lead when Sydney Hunsinger was fed a ball at midfield and turned on the jets. She raced past two Montoursville defenders to get a 1-v-1 look with Montoursville keeper Kierstyn Dawes. That’s when she dribbled to just inside the 18 and fired a shot to the left.

“That was big. We’re always like before halftime let’s do something here and get that energy,” Calvert said. “It’s been a consistent goal we’ve had the whole season.”

Lily Saul lined up for her penalty kick right before halftime which would have cut the deficit to one goal. But Humphrey dove and blocked the shot. Saul had three shots inside the 18 Tuesday — including her penalty kick — and Ulmer twice released shots from inside the 18.

“We thought we had good effort from our kids all night. Good things just happen when they put effort in out there on the field and they play together,” Gorini said. “They were playing well together, covering territory and Central’s just a little better than us in some areas. We’d have to have a good night to beat them.”

The Blue Jays made it a three-goal lead when they sent in a corner kick right to the head of Madelyn Blake inside the 6-yard box. Blake sneaked it inside the near post for the 4-1 lead with 11:14 to play.

Central Columbia out-shot Montoursville, 14-3, but the Blue Jays managed just two shots on goal in the second half.

Central Columbia 4,

Montoursville 1

M–Alexa Ulmer, 38:50. CC–Kayle Keefer, 21:38. CC–Sydney Hunsinger, 14:45. CC–Madelyn Blake, 9:03. CC–Alyx Flick, 11:14.

Shots: CC 14, M 3. Corners: CC 4, M 8. Saves: CC 1 (Alaina Humphrey), M 5 (Kierstyn Dawes 4, Anna Baylor 1).

Records: Central Columbia (14-1), Montoursville (9-4-1).

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