At halftime of Tuesday night’s boys’ soccer game at Alumni Stadium, Bald Eagle Area coach Jason Bair had some advice for forward Coty Newman: “You’re not going to score if you don’t shoot.”
At the time, Penns Valley had outshot the Eagles 9-5 and Newman did not have any of those attempts.
Newman only took one shot in the second half — but it went in.
The goal midway through the second half held up to give BEA the 1-0 win over the Rams.
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While Newman took care of business at one end, the Eagle defense finished an even tougher task at the other, shutting down a Penns Valley team that held possession for most of the night.
The Rams outshot the Eagles 18-7, with sophomore keeper Alex Boyer making eight saves for his first career shutout.
“We were dominating them,” Penns Valley coach Scott Case said of the shot disparity. “... You’d think one of them would have gone in. However, this is high school soccer.”
BEA (2-6) did not take another shot after the goal, with the ball at the other end of the field most of the night.
At one point, Bair was even imploring his defense to just boot the ball down the field if only to give everyone a breather.
“They were just exhausted,” said Bair, who was happy with how a team with only two seniors on the roster held up to the tension of a 1-0 lead.
“Being so young, these guys have not been through these pressure situations,” Bair said. “Trying to teach them how to deal with it, what do you do, staying calm is not an easy thing. They did well.”
It was even tougher when the game was still scoreless, and the Eagles had to be wondering if they would even get that chance to fire at the net.
“We were kind of scared at the end because it was 0-0 and we were all getting a little mad because we weren’t shooting and we weren’t scoring,” Newman said. “After that (goal) I was kind of happy and expected more.”
In one of those rare moments when the ball was at that end of the field, Penns Valley was trying to clear the ball when it bounced at Newman’s feet. The junior settled the ball about 20 yards out and struck a low shot that skipped across the turf and inside the far post.
“I was kind of scared,” Newman said. “I had a lot of people around me and it was my first goal of the season — besides against Grace Prep — and I was kind of nervous. Then when I hit it, I realized shooting more scores more.”
It was a product of that halftime discussion with Bair, who held up his scorebook with the shot chart for Newman to see.
“I don’t have any shots for you,” Bair told Newman, “because you didn’t shoot.”
Bair made sure to show the scorebook to Newman, and the team, after the game with the one shot attempted circled — signifying a goal.
The Rams (1-6) took plenty of shots, but for the second straight game and third time this season fell on the wrong end of a 1-0 contest.
“It’s tough for young men to see that happen over and over,” Case said. “It’s tough on their old coach.”
The Rams’ keeper, junior Ben Kupp, made five saves in the loss
While Boyer may get credit for the shutout, the defense, anchored by sweeper Gage Hilderbrand and midfielder Brandon Gettig also got plenty of credit for keeping the defense together under all that pressure.
Getting the win certainly made a difference for the Eagles.
“We’ve been progressively getting better, but we hadn’t turned the corner,” Bair said. “Tonight we turned the corner.”