By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
SELINSGROVE -- Soccer is often a game of positioning, and Selinsgrove was in the right place at the right time more often than not Saturday.
The Seals took full advantage of any slight openings on offense to pull out a 4-1 victory over rival Shikellamy.
Early in the second half, with the game tied at 1, the tide started to shift on a seemingly harmless bleeder in the box.
On a cross, Kaitlyn Harmon came out to make a leaping save and managed to knock the ball down but it squirted loose. With the defense clustered due to a close call, Marissa Heddings took advantage, shooting the ball through an opening and past Harmon.
Selinsgrove began to push the tempo in the second half and it showed as the Seals kept attacking in the offensive zone.
"The second half, we obviously played much better, tidied some things up," Selinsgrove head coach Matt Metzger said. "(We) started playing smarter, and putting three goals in reflected that."
Metzger said his team started to move off the ball in the second half to create opportunities rather than waiting for an opening.
Heddings' goal put the Seals in front, 2-1, but Selinsgrove was not satisfied with a one-goal cushion. Almost immediately after scoring the goal, the Seals returned to their offensive half of the field, putting pressure on the Braves' defense. The pressure allowed the Seals to establish control of the field, leading to numerous offensive chances and close calls even when balls did not find the back of the net.
Having control of the field allowed speedy freshman Samantha Rodkey to create plays for the Seals. Rodkey controlled a loose ball in the 47th minute and passed back to Nicole Krebs who beat Harmon in the lower left corner of the net.
"(Rodkey) has fit right in," Metzger said. "She's very aggressive ... She's jumped in and become a key part of our team from the beginning."
Facing a two-goal deficit, the Braves tried to return the favor with Haley Bingaman taking a few shots at close range but Jessica Lawton was there to make the saves.
As the game progressed, the Braves defense appeared to tire from constant sprinting to cover shooting lanes, which allowed the Seals to further push the pace of the game.
The Seals' break-neck pace in the second half paid off on a throw-in during the 56th minute. Krebs wasted no time gathering herself to throw the ball in play and found Lacy Trautman streaking up the sideline.
Trautman created space for herself and shot a low ball that Harmon was able to get a piece of but not enough to stop, upping the Seals' lead to three at 4-1.
In the first half, it appeared the game could lean either way with both teams having chances on goal and the momentum shifting both ways.
"This is our third game in a row where we were tied at the half and our lack of depth off the bench is our biggest battle," Braves head coach Angela Sivillo said.
After keeping the ball around Harmon for the first few minutes, the Seals cashed in at the 32:03 mark in the first half as Rodkey sent a cross into the box for a group of Seals and Krebs finished, finding the back of the net despite the traffic.
The Braves answered back after Elise Brubaker was tripped heading for a breakaway. On the ensuing free kick, Bingaman aimed low around the defensive wall and scored past a diving Lawton to tie the game at one in the 27th minute.
The Braves peppered Lawton with shots for the remainder of the half but were unable to capitalize.