The Bellefonte boys’ soccer team adopted “who’s next?” as its motto this season.
“Who’s going to step up next and who’s the next team we got to beat?” Red Raiders coach Scott Martz said.
Bellefonte embraced that mindset on its way to capturing the Mountain League title and earning the top seed in the District 6 Class AAA playoffs.
The Red Raiders (12-4-2) will open district postseason play against fourth-seeded Bishop Carroll (10-8) in a semifinal matchup set for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Bald Eagle Area. It is the first game of a doubleheader in Wingate as third-seeded BEA (12-4-2) will host sixth-seeded Forest Hills (12-6) at 7:30 p.m. in the Class AA quarterfinals.
The Red Raiders are familiar with “who’s next.”
Bellefonte played Bishop Carroll in the district playoffs in 2014 and 2015. The Red Raiders came out on top in both games.
Martz knows Bishop Carroll’s style of play — the Huskies have firepower on offense, but they’re vulnerable on defense. The coach is hoping his offense can take advantage and provide a spark early.
Martz expects his players to come out quicker in the playoffs.
“You lose and you go home, so I think we have to look at it that way,” Martz said. “... All year we’ve been more of a second-half team. I don’t think we can wait to be a second-half team, especially here in districts. We got to jump out right away.”
That’s how the Red Raiders beat Bishop Carroll 4-0 in the district quarterfinals last year.
Who does Martz need to step up on Tuesday night?
The coach is looking for midfielders Daniel Simmon and Noah Gaus to produce. They’ve been able to control the middle of the field to set up goal-scoring opportunities for forwards Alex Horner and Daniel Catchmark.
Horner has 17 goals and three assists, and Catchmark has 10 goals and eight assists.
Opposing defenses have aimed to limit Horner and Catchmark, so Martz has encouraged Simmon and Gaus (four goals, nine assists) to push forward and look to score.
Martz said he can’t get Simmon (three goals, three assists) to shoot enough.
“He just feeds a lot of passes up front,” Martz said. “But I think here in districts I need him to take more shots because he’s got a great shot.”
While Bellefonte is focused on its offense heading into the postseason, Bald Eagle Area could make a run behind its defense.
The Eagles recorded 10 shutouts in 18 games this season.
It’s BEA’s second goal — after winning — going into every game.
Hunter Etters has been solid in net for the Eagles with a 0.90 goals against average.
He’s also benefited from playing behind junior defender Dylan Zink and senior defenders Austin Huyett, Carson Spence and Clayton Giedroc, who are in their second year playing alongside each other.
“They’re just more mature at their positions, they understand what their roles are, how to back each other up, when to go, when to stay,” BEA coach Jason Bair said. “You can’t put a price on experience.”
The Eagles have been able to find the back of the net, too.
They’ve scored at least four goals in six games with an offense led by Jared Gettig and Seth Koleno.
Gettig leads the team with 17 goals to go with seven assists, and Koleno has scored 12 goals and recorded nine assists.
Jacob Michael, who is third on the team with eight goals, will return to the lineup Tuesday after missing the last four games due to a concussion.
BEA went 3-1 during that stretch, but Bair is looking forward to getting the physical presence on offense back.
“It’ll just be good to be back to what normal is for us,” Bair said.
At their best, the Eagles have shut teams out defensively and played unselfishly on offense.
They’re focused on “who’s next” right now, too.
“You can have that goal of being a district champ, but if you don’t win your first-round game, what does it matter?” Bair said.
District 6 soccer playoffs
Class AA girls first round: No. 10 Bald Eagle Area vs. No. 7 Penn Cambria, at Mansion Park, Altoona, 8 p.m.
Class AAA boys semifinal: No. 4 Bishop Carroll vs. No. 1 Bellefonte, at Bald Eagle Area, 5:30 p.m.
Class AA boys quarterfinal: No. 6 Forest Hills at No. 3 Bald Eagle Area, 7:30 p.m.
Class A girls semifinal: No. 4 Grace Prep vs. No. 1 Bishop Guilfoyle, at Mansion Park, Altoona, 8 p.m.
Class AA girls quarterfinal: No. 5 Penns Valley vs. No. 4 Richland, at Mansion Park, Altoona, 6 p.m.
Class AAA girls semifinal: No. 3 Bellefonte at No. 2 Huntingdon, 7:30 p.m.