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CM girls soccer falls to Milton in home-opener

Central Mountain's Ava Bair in action during Tuesday's game against Milton. TIM WEIGHT/For the Express

MILL HALL – It was a bitter-sweet moment for Central Mountain coach Ryan Veltri as he stood in the middle of the pitch addressing his team following Tuesday’s game against Milton.

For Veltri, it was his first time coaching the Wildcats on their home field in more than seven years. Unfortunately for CM and and its coach, the reunion did not go in their favor.

Milton used a strong defensive performance along with two second half goals to down CM, 3-0, Tuesday night.

Despite the loss and moving to 0-2 on the season, Veltri spotted some positives in his team’s loss.

“There’s nothing better than a home game. I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded by alumni as coaches, and there’s nothing better than being out here under the lights,” Veltri said. “I loved our competitive spirit. I loved the fight that they had and the thought process in transition when trying to win balls in the air. I loved the fact we tried to pass the ball and look a second team.”

CM faced a solid defense in Milton. The Wildcats fell to 0-2 Tuesday. TIM WEIGHT/For the Express

Right from the start it was clear to fans in attendance it was going to be a battle of two capable defensive units. Over the course of the game’s opening 20 minutes neither team managed to get any clean shots off.

Tuesday’s game was a physical one as players from both teams were often scattered on the turf at Malinak Stadium

It was not until the 37-minute mark when the first goal of the game was recorded. After a mix-up of players within the keeper’s reach the ball took an odd bounce toward the direction of Janae Bergey and she took full advantage of it. Milton’s senior midfielder booted the ball into the back left corner to put Milton ahead 1-0.

The Black Panthers kept their narrow lead heading into the half. At the break, Milton had a 3-2 shot advantage of CM as the game was still far from decided.

Both teams’ offenses had trouble maintain possession at the beginning of the second half. It was stellar goaltending from Milton’s Alexis Beaver and CM’s Madison Briggs. Beaver ended the night with three saves a shutout in net while Briggs saved seven along with three goals allowed.

Milton’s second goal came prior the 65th minute of action. Amelia Gainer rocketed a shot attempt between several CM defenders to put the Black Panthers up two. The Black Panthers’ third and final goal of the night was the easiest of them all; Sophomore Makenzie Lopez tapped in a two-footer to push the advantage to three.

According the Veltri, the script of the game may have gone a different way without the “unlucky” bounces the Wildcats faced near the net. Nonetheless, Veltri said the team CM faced was a good one.

“I felt like the one goal was bit unlucky. The first save was fantastic, and it was saved right to the girl running in. You look at those two goals and take them away and maybe its one-nil? But you can’t take anything away from Milton what did today,” Veltri said. “They pressured us and put a lot of pressure on our back line. We’re in a good position and I’m proud of the goals.”

As for the Black Panthers, Tuesday’s win marks their second straight to begin the season. Milton coach Rod Harris liked the way his team came together to earn the win.

“We played solid together as one. It was really nice to see nobody being selfish. Everybody was looking to play together and play as one. It showed once we got through the first half, it was 1-0 at halftime and we came out and just kept on dominating and getting the goals. It was nice to see them play together; that was a nice team win.”

CM–winless through its first two games for the second straight season–is a team that’s picking up confidence at the right time of the season according to Veltri.

“We came to play. The girls are gaining confidence and their excited to play and I think they’re trying the things we’re addressing. They’re (CM) coming off a game like that with a smile on their face. I think we’re on the right foot moving forward, we’re playing some of the best teams in the league. Milton is a fantastic squad; they move the ball around great and they have some fantastic players. I felt like we were able to compete against them,” Veltri said.

Milton 3, Central Mountain 0

Milton 1 2–3

CM 0 0–0

Goals scored: Milton, Janae Bergey (37:15); Amelia Gainer (64:52); Makenzie Lopez (68:55).

Saves: Milton, Alexis Beaver 3. CM, Madison Briggs 8.

Shots: Milton 11, Central Mountain 3.

Corners: Milton 3, CM 1.

Records: Milton 2-0, CM 0-2.

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