The ball was hopping around quite a bit on the turf of Alumni Stadium on Wednesday night, making it hard at times to settle things down and control possession.
But on Penns Valley’s best chance of the night, the ball bounced just right.
The Rams were outpossessed all game by Bald Eagle Area — and outshot for that matter, seven to five. However, Penns Valley capitalized when it needed to, notching the game’s only goal to beat BEA, 1-0.
“It was just pretty,” Penns Valley coach Scott Case said.
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Indeed it was.
A hard challenge along the sidelines by BEA’s Chris Dunkelbarger resulted in a yellow card for him, and subsequently, a Penns Valley free kick in the 46th minute.
The ball was placed about 70 yards from goal, and Rams defender John Statham stepped up confidently. He struck the ball with aplomb, which took a high bounce over a BEA defender and rolled toward the 18-yard box.
Penns Valley midfielder Stephen Gover was hounding the defender, and as BEA goalkeeper Alex Boyer came out to play the ball, Gover stepped in front of the defender. He put his right foot through the ball crisply, and curled it past the flailing keeper into the right-hand corner of the net.
“It was just enough ball to go over the defense and sit Stephen in for the goal,” Case said.
BEA coach Jason Bair, meanwhile, said there was a miscommunication between Boyer and the final defender.
“The goalie was left out in no man’s land,” Bair said.
It was a frustrating night for Bair and BEA (4-6-1). The Eagles controlled the tempo all game, and ripped off a few clean looks on net early on.
“We had one breakdown on defense, and we couldn’t come back from it,” Bair said.
Except they almost did.
In the final six minutes, the Eagles had four throw-ins and a corner kick, and created a few dangerous chances.
Their most potent opportunity came from a throw-in with five minutes to go. The long toss found a BEA head in the box, and the ball was flicked on goal, but Penns Valley shotstopper Jared Kines knocked it down and sprawled out in front of net to corral the loose ball.
Case said increased chances for the opposition comes with the territory of trying to hang onto a win.
“You’re more thinking about preserving the win,” Penns Valley’s coach said. “Our issue when that happens is we think so defensively and more of a panic to keep the ball out.”
Bair was happy his team pushed on, applied the necessary pressure, and nearly tallied an equalizer. The Eagles just couldn’t capitalize on their chances, which has become a common theme in the team’s losses this year.
All six defeats have been either 1-0 or 2-1 games, and Bair noted that scoring another goal here and there couldn’t hurt.
“They are in every game,” Bair said. “We just got to get over the hump.”
BEA will have a chance to do just that on Monday against Philipsburg-Osceola, while Penns Valley (6-5) looks to start a little winning streak on Saturday at Juniata.