MILL HALL - While the weather at Malinak Stadium on Saturday wasn't that inspiring, the Lady Wildcats made up for their last game in the face of those dreary conditions.
Central Mountain head coach Ryan Veltri had a much different tone after the Wildcats' 6-3 win against Oakland Catholic compared to what he felt earlier in the week after losing to Hollidaysburg.
"This was one of the biggest games of the season for us, coming from last week and the reaction we needed from the girls," Veltri said. "We continue to create chances which in turn offer us a chance to score goals which is extremely important."
Central Mountain’s Shelbe Walker looks to shoot against Oakland Catholic Saturday at Malinak Stadium in Mill Hall. CM?topped Oakland Catholic, 6-3.
A storm front plowed through the center region over the weekend and it forced some rescheduling, allotting the varsity to play first instead of the JV. But no matter, the Lady 'Cats were ready to play regardless of time or conditions.
When someone is chosen to be a captain of team there are certain reasons why they get to wear that special arm band or have that big "C" embroidered on their jersey. Often, pure athleticism and an individual's skill set are secondary in comparison to being a great sportsman or having the leadership necessary to galvanize a team.
It doesn't hurt that Central Mountain's Johnna Garbrick has both great leadership and excellent athletic ability.
The senior captain was involved in all three first half goals for the Lady 'Cats and got CM on the board first off an assist from Mia Bilski less than 10 minutes into the game. A little more than two minutes later Bilski and Garbrick decided to switch roles, this time, Bilski being on the receiving end of a nice pass that ended with the ball hitting the back of the net.
The third and final goal of the first half came with less than three minutes remaining when Garbrick scored off a nice ball from Krista Heckman.
"In the first half we were a little bit nervous," Oakland Catholic head coach Rich Mader said. "We haven't been playing all that well this year, having some break downs and mistakes. We also had our back up goal keeper in who was playing, pretty much, her first game ever. I think it took about 10 to 15 minutes for our team's nerves to calm and after that, I thought we settled in nicely."
Oakland Catholic may have given up three goals in the first half but they had no reason to believe that they were out of that game by stretch. If there was anyone to thank for allowing the Eagles to stick around, it was a particular group of individuals with a familiar name; The Central Mountain Lady Wildcats.
Despite all of its great play in the first half Central Mountain went into half time with only a 3-2 advantage. Oakland Catholics two goals were practically gift wrapped for them. The first came off a penalty kick by Kailey Joyce and the other was an own goal.
Things got worse for the Wildcats' defense about 15 minutes into the second half when, once again, Joyce scored but this time it was off a free kick that just got through the slippery grasp of the keeper.
"We are still not composed or comfortable while the other team has the ball and that is evident. The weather helped both teams as the ball was hard to handle for the keepers but the lead up play on some of our tallies are exciting for the future," Veltri said. "Biggest factor for us right now is understanding what the game is offering, becoming educated in all facets of the game and the soccer knowledge needed to perform were we are capable of at a higher level."
Veltri needed to see an inspiring performance from his squad. He needed to see what his team was made of after OC tied up the score. The head coach wanted witness something positive from his group of players.
The coach asked, and he received.
Around five minutes after the Tigers evened up the score, Central Mountain went on a terror headed up by Shelbe Walker. She scored two of the final three unanswered goals for the Wildcats. The first came off a beautiful free kick, the GK had no chance at and the other was merely whipped cream on what was a treat of a second half when she rocketed the ball pass the keep from about 10 yard, making the final score 6-3. In between Walker's goals, Rebecca Leuthold increased the Lady Wildcats' lead by two off another assist by Garbrick.
"I thought we were a little more composed and dynamic in our attack," Veltri said. "Defensively we're still a little sloppy but we did communicate better on offense today. We have great kids in this program and their reaction to what happened earlier in the week against Hollidaysburg was great. We met a nice team from out of the area and a relationship was formed, we will see them again in the future."