The State College boys’ soccer team may have surrendered an early goal, but it didn’t take long for an answer.
There were many, many answers.
The Little Lions’ offense exploded in the District 6 Class AAA Championship game on Wednesday night at Bald Eagle Area’s Alumni Stadium, rolling over Hollidaysburg 10-2.
“I was not at all expecting that,” said Ben Stout, who scored two goals in a two-minute span late in the first half. “I was expecting a close game. They’re a very good team. I think we got lucky on a few, but our hard work paid off.”
The 10 unanswered goals gave the Little Lions (12-7-2) their fourth straight district crown. They head to a PIAA play-in game against an opponent to be determined on Saturday.
Craig Hilliard also scored twice, Brennan Cornwall had a goal and an assist and other goals came from Kyle Moerschbacher, Cam Wilson, Yannick Arienbuwa, Kevin Reid and Paul McDermott.
“I think we play with a great brand of soccer,” State College coach Danny Orton said. “It’s a pleasure to watch.”
Collin Terchanik put the Tigers (14-6) on the board first, sending in a blast from about 15 yards out 13:58 into the game.
But with the early action end-to-end with one counterattack after another, State College didn’t need much time for a response.
Moerschbacher took a long lead pass on one of those counters, dribbled a few times, put a move on a defender and put in the equilizer.
The Little Lions then took over in the final 10:16 of the first half.
First, a back-heel flick from Hilliard in a crowd of people delivered the go-ahead goal.
Hollidaysburg almost had its own answer on a counterattack when Terchanik had a breakaway but rocked his shot off the post.
Then Stout put in his back-to-back scores, first converting a cross from Cornwall, then tapping in a feed from Isaac Plutzer with 2:53 left in the half.
“Goals will change games,” Orton said. “The fact we equalized pretty soon after they scored … really helped us. Ben’s goals, of course, got us into halftime pretty excited and pretty relaxed.”
If those goals had not yet broken the Tigers’ backs, it didn’t take much longer for it to happen.
Just 56 seconds after intermission, Wilson redirected a feed from Mac Schaily for a 5-1 lead, and the rout was on.
“The one right after halftime, I think, kind of killed us,” Hollidaysburg coach Craig Shale said. “After that it was just pass, pass, pass, six yards away, shot on goal.”
The Little Lions have been on a roll lately, with a 7-0-2 record in their last nine games. All of the wins have produced at least three goals, and Wednesday marked the third game with at least five scores.
“The competition for places at the forwards has been really good,” Orton said. “I think that’s kept everybody on their toes.”
State College also was toughened by playing in the Mid Penn Conference.
“We’ve played well all year, and we play in one of the toughest conferences in the state,” Orton said. “We’ve lost very close games against top teams. The finishing piece has really come on in the last few weeks.”
Not long after Wilson scored, the Little Lions began to bring plenty of substitutes, but the bench players found the net just as often as the starters.
“Obviously they’re good,” Shale said. “They’re not eight goals better than us, but they had their chances and they put them away. It was pretty clinical.”
Eric Miller scored with about nine minutes left – by then it was a running clock even after goals because of the mercy rule – for one more Tiger goal.
The Little Lions could celebrate through most of the second half, but will have to bring its focus back to the next game quickly – hoping there are more goals to come.
“We focused on scoring the whole week,” Stout said. “To get this many, I think it just shows how ready we are for states.”