MILL HALL- Last night's match between the Central Mountain and Altoona was everything you could want in a match of soccer.
Then there was a little more.
The only thing missing from the game was a winner.
Both teams left nothing out on the pitch, ending in a 1-1 tie after overtime.
This was tough game all the way through and each team showed its grit. For the first 20 minutes of play, the match was as even as it could be. Tied at zero, the defenses were stout and the offenses were constantly showing aggression with possessing the ball.
"Except for the goal we gave up, I thought we played really well," Altoona head coach Dave Alexander said. "I thought we had the better of the chances tonight and we've been struggling a bit so I was proud of the way we played. I thought the team gave a lot of effort."
Tommy Rodabaugh was anchoring a strong defense for the Wildcats, nothing was getting through his defense.
"Team defense is what it's all about," CM?coach Jeff Brinker said. "It was nice to see the guys getting back and doing what they need to do. The guys did very well and the back line did a good job at playing solid defense."
Nearing the half way mark of the first half, the game turned in favor of Altoona. Rodabaugh was stride for stride with Mountain Lion striker Nick Beckel, but as both players rushed towards the bottom corner of the 18-yard box.
Beckel stumbled to the turf. As the hands of the official began to swing upward, the loyal fans at Malinak Stadium knew what call was coming. The ref's arms formed an "X" over the top of his head.
There it was, a penalty kick.
The questionable call drew some boos from the stands, but - at least from the official's perspective - there was a foul. The call sent Altoona's surest leg in Beckel for the attempt.
The senior striker did not disappoint.
To goalie Cole Hanley's credit he wasn't fooled, Hanley has good instincts between the posts and correctly moved to where Beckel was shooting toward. But, Beckel's shot appeared to knick the side of the left post, placed perfectly and just out of reach for the keeper.
In the first 40 minutes of play, CM was the more aggressive team on the offensive front.
The Mountain Lions' defense wasn't exactly awful, but the 'Cats were playing good team ball, attacking the goal with purpose. The shots were there for Central Mountain, but the goal never came.
Central Mountain gathered into its huddle on the sideline at half time, feeling like it should have a one goal advantage, instead of deficit.
The Wildcats didn't hang their heads, feeling sorry for themselves starting the second half. The hardwork they had put in on both sides of the ball hadn't yet paid off.
Until it finally did.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Micah Powers evened things up for the Wildcats. Ty Yonkin, who had made several nice passes earlier in the match, launched an on-point cross pass to Powers. The senior captain took advantage and skillfully maneuvered himself in scoring position, drilling the ball to the back of the net.
"It was a good ice-breaker for us," Brinker said. "It's always nice to get a goal early in the second half because then you're not putting more and more pressure on yourself as the match goes on."
For the rest of the half the Central Mountain defense kept Altoona in check and the match went into overtime.
"The whole second have I thought we played really well and I encouraged the guys going into overtime," Alexander said. "I didn't have much to say to them other than keep playing the way you've been playing."
The match went into two 10-minute OT periods and it needed every minute. The way the match was going the players probably wanted it to last longer but through all the tense moment extra time brings, no goal and the match ended in a tie.
"Throughout the entire match I kept on telling them to play like they were playin because I liked the way we were playing team ball," Brinker said. "We kept it simple and were playing the way we wanted to play. I was very happy with the teams performance tonight."
The Wildcats have the rest of the week off and won't suit up again until next week when they face Danville. In JV action CM lost 4-1 and with the tie the varsity squad is now 3-3-1 on the season.