Bald Eagle Area sprinted past Bellefonte on the field and on the scoreboard Wednesday night.
The Eagles put their speed on display during a 3-2 win over Bellefonte to lock up the Mountain League title. The Eagles offensive trio of Jacob Michael, Seth Koleno and Garrett Giedroc consistently slipped behind the defense to create opportunities and and help their team amass 14 shots on goal.
“They are a good team,” Red Raiders coach Scott Martz said. “They are quick. They are so fast up front.”
Michael, who was one of 10 seniors to be honored before the game for Senior Night, put BEA on the board first as the Eagles led the rest of the contest. Michael’s teammates scrambled at the top of the goalie box when the ball found his foot 10 minutes into the contest — and he found the back of the net.
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The game was never really in doubt for the rest of the match.
“It felt great because we got the title,” Michael said. “It seems to be a common theme that when I score first, the team starts rolling like at Penns Valley earlier this season and straight on through. We just take it game by game.”
Added Eagles coach Jason Bair: “First goal was huge for momentum. We knew we weren’t going to shut Bellefonte out. What we needed to do was outscore them, we just didn’t know what that number was.”
Koleno made sure Bald Eagle Area would score enough after the 1-0 halftime lead.
In the 50th minute, Michael put a nice through ball down the far sideline to a speeding Koleno — who slipped past his Bellefonte defender, before placing a shot in the far bottom corner where goalkeeper Josh Gaus couldn’t reach. That gave BEA a 2-0 advantage.
“They put a nice punch together,” Bair said of his offensive guys. “They worked the ball nicely down the side. Seth was amazing tonight.”
Bellefonte responded with a score to cut the deficit to 2-1. But Koleno and the team’s speed made sure the Red Raiders wouldn’t get an equalizer.
In fact, when referring to BEA’s final goal, Bair called it “absolutely beautiful soccer.”
Giedroc raced down the near sideline after slipping past a few Bellefonte defenders. He arched a nice cross pass to the middle of the field. And Koleno came sprinting in from nowhere with a diving header to the top corner for the score.
Suddenly, BEA again boasted a two-goal cushion, 3-1.
“We play this game in practice called ‘World Cup,’” Koleno said. “The ball goes up in the air, and you have to score and your team gets out. All the time, when I go up for headers like that, I just think ‘World Cup.’ I got to get it in and my team going on.”
But Bellefonte didn’t fold after the Eagles’ final score.
With just over two minutes to go in the game, Bellefonte’s Noah Nadolsky again split defenders and scored on a breakaway. The Red Raiders couldn’t catch magic again in the waning seconds, but their coach said he couldn’t have been happier with their effort.
“We weren’t supposed to be here tonight playing for a Mountain League championship,” Martz said. “They’ve battled all season long. I’m proud of our guys. They got down 2-0, they battled right back. They didn’t quit.”