Winning games in the girls soccer state tournament is not a new experience for East Juniata.
Tuesday’s 8-2 victory was the fifth in the last three seasons for the Tigers in the PIAA Class A tournament. However, East Juniata is approaching this postseason differently than in the past.
“I feel we always looked ahead, but now we’re finally focused,” senior Clarye Guyer said.
“We’re taking it one game at a time,” senior Madison McDonald added. “We’ve got to focus on this week and not think about next week yet.”
The East Juniata girls know that is a cliche, but it’s also an attitude they’ve embraced.
In both 2017 and 2018, the Tigers were the District 4 runners-up and then lost in the state semifinals. This year, East Juniata defeated Bloomsburg 1-0 to win the District 4 title.
“Last year in the district final, for example, we were like it doesn’t matter what happens in the district final because we’re going to states,” McDonald said. “This year, we’re taking it game-by-game.”
The Tigers (22-1) have of stated goal of doing better this season than either of the past two years.
“We’ve been to the state semis two years in a row and we want to get past that this year,” senior Thea Neimond said.
“We want to get over the two humps,” Guyer said. “The first was the district final. Now we want to get over the semifinals and make it all the way.”
The good news for East Juniata’s approach this season is there is little chance that the Tigers will overlook their opponent in Saturday’s quarterfinal. East Juniata faces Fairfield at Eagle View Middle School in Mechanicsburg at noon.
Fairfield defeated East Juniata 2-0 on Oct. 12, the only loss of the season for the Tigers.
East Juniata coach Val Dressler called the loss “a good learning experience” at the time.
“At this point, it comes down to will and who wants it more,” Dressler said.
East Juniata is 66-7-1 over the last three seasons, and expectations are sky-high. Last season, the Tigers lost twice, and both losses were to eventual state champion Southern Columbia.
“There is a lot expected out of us,” McDonald said.
The Tigers are enjoying themselves, though.
“This is the most fun,” McDonald said. “In my past three years, this is probably my favorite year so far. It’s so fun. Even if we’re winning 7-2, it’s fun every goal we get. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 10th goal or the first goal, it’s the same to us.”
In some ways, the Tigers think this is the best team they’ve had during this stretch.
“I think we’ve played better as a whole team this year,” Neimond said.
“We’re a different team,” Guyer said. “Each of us has our special talents, and we combine them to make a really good team this year, as we were in past years.”