It happened a few times: a Bellefonte attacker would get behind the Tyrone back line, be played through on goal, but have to race to the ball. Tyrone goalkeeper Anthony Politza was coming for it, and he was unscathed in doing so, collecting pass after pass.
It lasted until what would become the game’s defining moment.
Locked in a tie with a little more than 10 minutes left in regulation, Bellefonte’s Nate Shippee was freed up to make a run into the box.
“I finally got a chance to get the touch before (Politza) came out,” Shippee said. “He came out hard at me, and I knew I had to pick a corner real quick before he got any closer to me.”
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Shippee chose right.
“And I just tapped it into the side,” the senior said.
That he did, and 10 minutes later, Shippee and his teammates celebrated a 2-1 win over Tyrone on Wednesday afternoon.
Bellefonte’s late goal was a product of applied pressure, something the Red Raiders (8-6) ratcheted up throughout the afternoon.
It started early.
Shippee and Dion Furfaro paired well up top, and they received quite a bit of help from their outside midfielders. Bellefonte’s Finn Nixdorf, Alex Horner and Chauncey Blakeslee pushed the ball through the heart of the pitch, distributed precisely, and rode it to the backline when given the opportunity.
It’s what Bellefonte coach Scott Martz wanted.
“We worked on driving the ball down the wings, pulling their defense out so we could get the ball into our center guys,” Martz said. “We wanted to utilize our wings.”
That approach worked, too.
With 8:56 left in the first half, the Red Raiders struck first. A cross came in from the left flank, finding Brian Feldman in the middle of the 18-yard box. He directed a shot toward the left side of goal, and it was deflected by a defender.
However, the ball fell right to the foot of Blakeslee, who guided it into the back of the net.
The play not only gave Bellefonte the lead, but it also capped an ideal half for Martz.
“I thought we played a great first half,” the coach said. “We controlled the tempo of the game, passed the ball well.”
That wasn’t really the case after the break. Tyrone came out with an inspired attack, and scored 20 minutes into the second half.
The Golden Eagles (6-7) had previously settled for long range, low percentage looks on goal, but this time they found some space. Tyrone striker Noah D’Angelo was freed up in the center of the box and knotted the game at 1-1 with a strike into the right side of the net.
What happened to Bellefonte’s momentum?
“We kind of slid back a little bit,” Martz said. “We kept playing kick ball. We got it and just kept clearing it, clearing it and clearing it. We got out of our passing game.”
Something had to change.
“After they scored that goal to tie it, we knew we would have to work hard for it,” Shippee said. “We really came together, started talking a lot.”
That communication led to cohesive play, which parlayed into Shippee’s game-winner.
The Red Raiders’ next game is at home against Philipsburg-Osceola on Friday.