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Sports

Holding steady

| Friday, Sept. 5, 2008

The Connellsville boys soccer team was shut out by Laurel Highlands in a season-opening tournament, but Thursday, the Falcons gave the visiting Mustangs a much more even contest. It was so even, in fact, that the teams played to a 1-1 tie in double overtime.

Playing 100 minutes without a winner could be frustrating for some, especially after having just played an overtime game Tuesday, but Connellsville coach Bob Cummings took it differently.

"It's just how the game goes," he said. "I think they played very well -- both teams. I know (Laurel Highlands) just came off a double-overtime game, too."

The Falcons (2-1-1) edged Greensburg Salem in that overtime effort, while the Mustangs (2-0-2) settled for a tie against Baldwin.

Yesterday's non-section game was competitive from the start. Both squads attempted to work the ball deep into the other's territory for scoring chances, but neither met with much success until about 10 minutes into the first period. Elliott Weiss worked his way into Connellsville's end, but his shot went wide of the net. Travis Lancaster sent a hard kick toward goaltender Cody Shultz, but he turned it aside, and the Falcons got a few chances of their own.

Neil Sain took the ball to Jordan Merchbaker's net but couldn't score, and Justin Cummings, Ethan Saylor and Devin Nudo all missed the mark as the game remained scoreless at the half.

The Mustangs looked a little more aggressive to start the second half, testing Shultz repeatedly. About 15 minutes into the period, Weiss got a breakaway chance. Stetson Keedy took him down to avoid a goal, but the move resulted in a penalty kick, on which Ben Kooser gave Laurel Highlands a 1-0 lead.

The goal gave the Mustangs a bit of a spark, but Connellsville wasn't ready to quit. The Falcons kept pressing. Nearly 30 minutes into the second half, Justin Cummings got the ball near the left sideline and buried it in the opposite corner of the net.

Kooser looked to answer a few minutes later, but he was called offsides on the play, negating his goal and sending the game into overtime.

Each team had its chances, as one extra period ran into two, but Shultz and Merchbaker held steady.

Laurel Highlands coach Tom Ables credited Shultz and the Falcons with an excellent game.

"I think, since we beat them 3-0 (in the opening tournament), we psychologically thought that this would be an easy one," he said. "We expected them to roll over, and they didn't do that."

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