By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- With fewer than 10 seconds showing on the scoreboard, Selinsgrove senior Kyle Davies quickly set up a corner kick with the hope someone would send it to the back of the net and tie the game.
Davies booted the ball into a sea of teammates in white jerseys, but the Midd-West defense held strong and prevented any type of shot as the final buzzer sounded.
Midd-West coach Chris Sauer no doubt exhaled a sigh of relief when the game finally ended and his Mustangs held on to defeat Selinsgrove, 1-0, in a HAC-I contest Monday afternoon.
The loss kept Selinsgrove from clinching a District 4 playoff berth with just one chance remaining.
While Sauer was generally pleased with his Mustangs, he had to sweat it out knowing a one-goal lead against the Seals isn't safe.
"We're pleased that we got the result, (and) obviously a little disappointed that we had chances to put the game away but let them hang around," Sauer said. "One of the worst things you can do is let a team like them hang in. When you have those opportunities to get up two (or) get up three goals, you need to cash in on those."
The Mustangs (11-6, 9-4 HAC-I) controlled majority of the game and had plenty of shots (14 total), but they managed to get only one past Selinsgrove's Zach Hendricks.
Trevor Stuck won the ball off a Midd-West corner and, from just a few yards away from the goal, Sebastian Callender had a great shot to the far post for the lone goal with 26:20 to play in the first half.
"It was a great turn and a great finish. ... (Callender) was where he needed to be and he got the right touch on it," Sauer said. "Seb is a really important player for us. He does so much for us in the middle.
"I think he was rewarded for all the hard work that he's been doing for us. We'd be in trouble without him."
The Seals (8-9, 6-7) had a handful of opportunities throughout the game to net an equalizer.
Late in the first half, Manny Little had a nice through-ball down the sideline, and had beaten the defenders. However, rather than rifling a shot with his look at the goal, the junior forward cut across the 18 and the Midd-West defense caught up to clear it away.
Early in the second half, junior Derek Menges took a shot from about 25 yards out, only to see the ball sail just high of the goal.
Not even two minutes later, Davies had a great ball within six yards and tried a shot to the far post, but Midd-West goalie Elijah Fisher dove to for a block that sent it back into play. Another Selinsgrove player tried to tap it past the near post, but had his shot just miss the goal and roll out of bounds.
"They were keying on Manny, obviously, but Manny created some scoring opportunities," Selinsgrove coach Chris Lupolt said. "It's just one of those things (where) you're hoping eventually that one of those break and we can finish on it, but that just didn't happen."
Selinsgrove ended the night with seven shots (just two on goal) and only twice managed to get a shot off from inside the goal area.
"Midd-West is a good team. They're big (and) they're physical," Lupolt said. "We're playing young kids this year and we're doing the best that we can with what we have. I think we gave them a game. That's all we were hoping for."
Selinsgrove travels to Milton (5-10) on Wednesday, and must win in order to qualify for the District 4 playoffs. Selinsgrove has not missed the playoffs this century.