There weren’t any clouds in the sky, but lightning struck the Philipsburg-Osceola boys’ soccer team.
Juniata’s Johannes Muller scored twice in the first 1:19 of the second half as the Indians knocked off the two-time defending District 6 champion Mounties 3-0 in the Class AA quarterfinals at Bald Eagle Area’s Alumni Stadium.
The loss ended the season for sixth-seeded Philipsburg-Osceola (10-6-2), while No. 3 Juniata (12-6-1) advanced to a semifinal matchup against Chestnut Ridge on Tuesday.
Juniata had the most opportunities in the opening half, but thanks to stellar play from P-O goalie Mitchell Winters the game was scoreless at halftime. Winters made a pair of spectacular diving saves in the opening 40 minutes.
But Juniata and Muller didn’t give Winters much of a chance at the opening of the second half.
On a turnover, the ball went to Muller, a German exchange student. Muller beat the center defender off the dribble and walked in on Winters. Muller flicked a shot into the right corner of the net.
Nearly a minute later, the same thing happened. Muller got the ball off a turnover and again had an open lane down the middle. Once again he found the right corner of the net to make it 2-0, scoring his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
“We had quite a few dangerous opportunities there in the first half and unfortunately we hit a post on one and there were a couple of great saves by their keeper,” Juniata coach Clint Brackbill said. “We had momentum going into the half. We talked about it and made a little bit of adjustments and it definitely paid off. ... It’s nice to get them that quick.”
The Indians weren’t done with the early lightning. They’d score again before the 10-minute mark.
A shot from outside got through Winters and Trent Paden cleaned up the the rebound to push the margin to three goals.
P-O coach Shawn Inlow said his squad couldn’t overcome a couple of first-half injuries, including one to his son Wyatt Inlow, who injured a hamstring midway through the first half.
“They beat us plain and simple, but I think we were able to hold them out if we were healthy,” Shawn Inlow said. “It was a good game. It would have been a pretty much a toss-up anyway, but I think we could have easily got some traction on them. ... I had to move a lot of people. ... That’s the first time in three years that we’ve given up three goals.
“In the first half, we really didn’t allow a lot of shots from in close,” Inlow added. “They were getting their opportunities, but they were putting them wide or Mitch seemed to have a lot of room. He’s a great keeper. ... It was unfair to Mitch to have to stop a guy steaming right down the pipe at you.”
Juniata’s defense didn’t have those kind of problems. P-O’s best chances came after the score was 3-0. Kyle Albert hit the crossbar on a long direct kick and Austin Krise was just wide on a left-footed blast.
Krise, who had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 opening round win over Somerset, faced two defenders most of the night.
“He’s a good player,” Brackbill said of P-O’s leading scorer. “Obviously everything goes through him just like we have stuff that goes through certain players. We knew that we needed to shut down what he had and even with that he had some dangerous situations.”
Winters, one of nine seniors on the roster, had nine saves for the Mounties.
Wyatt Inlow, Skyler Krise, Zach Ament, Lucas Fetters, Kevin Croyle, Kyle Hamilton, Aaron Brown and Andrew Gray are the other seniors on the roster.
“The kids marshalled themselves pretty well,” Shawn Inlow said of the team’s late play. “We got some traction on them. We nearly scored. I would have liked to have seen us be healthy the whole time. I think it could have been a much more interesting game.”