---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
MIDDLEBURG -- With 25 minutes remaining in the second half, Midd-West tied up Wednesday's game at 2-all and swung momentum back after Lewisburg had taken a lead.
For the next 20 minutes the Mustangs played solid, not giving the Green Dragons many easy looks and taking shots at Lewisburg goalkeeper Sienna Fisher.
However, just past the 5-minute mark, Lewisburg's Kaitlyn Donnelly dribbled the ball just inside of the goal area only a few yards from Midd-West goalie Paige Kauffman. Donnelly then took her shot and found the center of the goal just behind Kauffman and put the Green Dragons ahead for good, 3-2.
It was a much-needed win for Lewisburg (7-7 overall, 6-6 HAC-I), which must now win two of its remaining four games to qualify for the District 4 playoffs with a .500 record. The win at Middleburg Athletic Sports Booster Park was a good step toward achieving that goal.
"We have to win the games. We sometimes put pressure on ourselves and now every game is a playoff atmosphere," Lewisburg coach Jose Vega said. "We put ourselves in that situation and we're starting to step up. We did (Wednesday). At times it wasn't pretty, but we came out with a win. That's all that matters."
Lewisburg twice took a lead only to see Midd-West (9-5, 5-5) step up and nail a tying goal.
The Green Dragons scored in the first three minutes when Elke Velz hit a deep shot from about 18 yards out past Kauffman. Then Midd-West freshman Makenzi Kauffman scored with 9:24 to play, tying it with a slow roller through Fisher's legs.
Emily Cole then scored in the final two minutes to give the Green Dragons the lead again.
"We expected a tough game. It's never good to underestimate your opponent and Midd-West always puts up a strong fight," Lewisburg goalie Fisher said. "We've been having trouble playing a first half and I think that our first half really did wonders to help us win this game. Without our first half, without playing the way we did, we would not have won."
The Green Dragons attempted just five shots in the first half to Midd-West's nine, but two of those five found the back of the net, including Cole's goal off a baseline pass from Lindsay Ayers.
What hurt Midd-West was missed opportunities and chances throughout the game. Junior Kenedi Moyer had breakaway passes and found through balls routinely, but struggled to generate decent shots and missed the frame. Moyer scored in the second half but, despite the goal, the Mustangs struggled to convert. Of the Mustangs 20 shot attempts, just two were goals.
"That seems to be our story right now. We're so close (but) we just can't get over that hump to have a complete game and finish things we need to do," Midd-West coach Russ Goodling said. "I got to give Lewisburg credit: They took advantage of their opportunities and made the best of them. We just didn't, plain and simple."
Fisher played solid in the goal for Lewisburg despite giving up two goals.
In the second half, Moyer took a shot from about seven yards out, only to see Fisher get her hands up and block it. The loose ball rolled back to Moyer who tried to tap it in just a few yards in front of the goal, but Fisher got a leg out to block it before she fell on top of it.
It was that type of effort and play from the senior keeper that helped Lewisburg walk out of Middleburg with another win.
"(Fisher) was oustanding. When we needed her the most, she came out with two tremendous saves to keep the game at 2-2, and then Donnelly came in there (to score late)," Vega said. "It was a good feeling."