MIDDLEBURG — Selinsgrove took advantage of its set-piece opportunities Tuesday night, scoring five goals off restarts.
That led the Seals to a 5-3 victory over Midd-West in Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II boys soccer.
“We’ve been running those plays, and they’ve finally started to click,” Selinsgrove coach Chris Lupolt said of the set pieces. “We practice them a lot, obviously, but one of the things we always say is to see the ball and go. Do it quickly. And that first goal really caught them off guard, I think.”
Selinsgrove jumped out to the early lead with two goals in the first 10 minutes.
Just more than five minutes in, the Seals earned a free kick in Midd-West territory. Before the Mustangs’ defense was set, Matthew Gilfert chipped the ball into the box where Nick Ritter flicked it into the net.
Selinsgrove scored just more than two minutes later, this time off a corner kick. The Seals took a short corner. Noah Derr and Owen Magee teamed up in the near corner of the field, and Derr ripped a shot from just inside the 18 that found the top-left corner of the net, and the Seals were quickly out to a 2-0 advantage.
“Giving up those two — just those slight hiccups we had — was huge,” said Midd-West coach Mark Ferster. “You take those two early goals away, and look at the scoreboard. We were right there and that shows a lot.”
Midd-West got back within one goal just seven minutes later. Attacking the middle of the Selinsgrove defense, Nick Eppley used some fancy footwork to find an open lane and rip a shot into the net.
In the second half, Midd-West kept pushing the ball deep into Selinsgrove territory, but could never find the equalizer.
With just over 15 minutes remaining, the Seals launched a counter-attack and earned one of their six corner kicks in the game. Once again, Derr and Magee teamed to take a quick short corner and score, this time off the foot of Magee with a Derr assist.
Selinsgrove (1-0) scored again with under 10 minutes remaining to seemingly put the game away. Senior striker Kyle Ruhl took a free kick that deflected off a Midd-West defender and into the back of the net, making it a 4-1 game with 9:23 remaining.
Midd-West tried to rally. With 8:01 remaining, Midd-West earned a penalty kick after a hand ball in the box. Senior defender Stefan Leitzel put it in the low-right corner of the goal to make it a 4-2 game.
“Teams that get down early often bow their heads and say we can’t get back two goals,” said Ferster. “We struck the ball well and their keeper made some really great saves in the second half. It was just unlucky. But I like the fact that we battled to the end, didn’t give up and kept coming after it.
Just eight seconds after the Midd-West goal, Ruhl ripped a shot into the back of the net from outside the 18-yard box.
With 6:22 remaining, Nolan Stahl scored on a header on a cross from Nick Epply to make it a 5-3 game, but Midd-West got no closer
“Both teams really came to play,” Lupolt said. “I didn’t expect to see eight goals in a game like this, but there were some pretty goals scored by both teams.
“We knew in order to stay in contention in our league that this was an important game. Thursday (against Lewisburg) is going to be even more important.”
Midd-West drops to 1-1-1.
“We’re going to be a tough team to count out,” Ferster said. “We play in a good league; there are some really quality teams. We’ll face these guys again, and we’ll be ready to go next time.”
SELINSGROVE 5, MIDD-WEST 3
S-Nick Ritter (Matthew Gilfert), 34:19; S-Noah Derr (Owen Magee), 32:06; MW-Nicholas Eppley, 25:03.
S-Magee (Derr), 15:06; S-Kyle Ruhl (Jamison Bohner), 9:23; MW-Stefan Leitzel (PK), 8:01; S-Ruhl, 7:53; MW-Nolan Stahl (Eppley), 6:22.
Shots: S, 11-9; Corners: S, 6-3. Saves: Selinsgrove 7 (Cole Catherman); Midd-West 6 (Josh Horst).