For 62 minutes, the Altoona girls’ soccer team held State College in check.
The Lady Little Lions provided constant pressure, dominating possession and creating plenty of shot opportunities. But the Lady Mountain Lions packed eight in the box to fight off State College, giving themselves a chance if they could generate any offense.
Finally, with 17:59 remaining, State College’s Makenzie Graham found the back of the net.
Graham added a second goal on a penalty kick to lead the Lady Little Lions (11-8) to a 2-0 win in the District 6 Class AAAA championship game Tuesday night at Bald Eagle Area’s Alumni Stadium.
It was State College’s ninth straight district title.
State College dominated play throughout the night and took 22 shots.
But Altoona survived the first half behind its defense.
Jennifer Worley and Grace Dull were all over the field for the Lady Mountain Lions. They cleared out State College passes and defended shot attempts to make life difficult despite the Lady Little Lions controlling possession.
“They played a pretty physical battle throughout the whole game,” Graham said. “The first half we could have played a little better.”
Altoona coach Derek Winterburn was pleased with his defense’s performance.
“We didn’t even really have to worry about the back line,” Winterburn said. “The back line played really, really well and they played really, really well all night. To hold State College for 60 minutes without a goal, that’s pretty impressive.”
Graham ended the scoreless tie on a long shot inside the left post.
She saw Lady Mountain Lions goalie Alicia Carper was out of position and took her shot.
Winterburn had a great view from the sideline and a path clear out for Graham to send it at the net.
She buried it.
“I knew it was going in as soon as I shot it,” Graham said.
State College coach Bud Price said he talked to his team about relaxing going into the second half.
“We just were a little bit too tense, just a little bit too tense there,” Price said. “So we just relaxed and reminded them that they put in a lot of practice time and played a lot of tough competition.”
With State College ahead, Altoona adjusted its game plan.
The Lady Mountain Lions needed to score.
“We kind of pressed a little bit with about 10 minutes left,” Winterburn said. “We changed our formation, we put three up top to try to generate something.”
But State College limited Altoona’s opportunities. The Mountain Lions were held to just four shots, with Ali Wicks making one save for the shutout.
And Graham sealed the win by converting on a penalty kick with 1:53 left.
The Lady Little Lions will play Erie McDowell on Saturday in a PIAA sub-regional game at a site and time to be determined.