By Marion Valanoski
For The Daily Item
Chris Sauer’s halftime advice to his Midd-West soccer team was simple and to the point: “Don’t change what you’re doing.”
The Mustangs heeded their coach’s advice and, with outstanding play in net from Austin Hockenbrock and goals by Tyler Arbogast and Austin Good, earned a 2-0 victory Wednesday over Shamokin in District 4 Class AA playoff action at Raymond H. Perritt Stadium.
Midd-West (11-8) won the statistical battle in the first half by out-shooting Shamokin, 10-1, and the Mustangs had a 3-0 edge in corners. However, the Indians (10-8-1) were able to keep the matchup scoreless due to the great play in goal from senior Jon Deitrick, who was credited with eight saves in the first 40 minutes.
The Indians had a great opportunity to grab control of both the momentum and the scoreboard advantage when the Mustangs were whistled for a foul resulting in a penalty shot with 38:10 left. Hockenbrock easily stopped Ryan Rompolski’s attempt to keep the match scoreless.
“We were aware of what Shamokin’s goalie could do but we believe in our keeper,” Sauer said. “That was a big play for us.”
Midd-West wanted to be more aggressive in front of the goal and get Deitrick moving side to side instead of stationary in the middle of the net. Seven minutes later the Mustangs were able to create enough movement in front of the goal and Ty Ross’ perfect pass found the leg of Arbogast. He managed to drill a shot past the outstretched arms of Deitrick for a 1-0 lead with 31:31 remaining in the contest.
“We score on that penalty kick and that perhaps forces Midd-West to take a defender off of (Matt) Gass and frees him up a bit,” Indians head coach Joel Hockenbroch said. “There were a few times we got inside the 6-yard line but couldn’t come up with a clean shot on goal. Jon (Deitrick), as usual, was solid in goal and was the reason we went into the break without giving up a score. But we didn’t create very many opportunities for ourselves.”
Sauer’s decision to shadow the Indians outstanding midfielder with freshman Devaughn Johns proved to be one of the reasons Midd-West kept Shamokin off the board.
“They are dangerous on the counter-attack and have all the speed up front, especially with Gass,” Sauer said. “Devaughn did a great job on the back line and the strategy of using speed against speed worked out.”
With scoring opportunities few and far between, any hope of a comeback was dashed with 20:12 remaining when Trevor Stuck delivered a perfect pass to Good. His shot was knocked down by the Indians goalie but somehow managed to slide off his glove and into the net for 2-0 Midd-West advantage.
“Our goalie stepped it up on the biggest stage to date and our continued aggressive play created opportunities that we finally were able to take advantage of,” Sauer said. “It was nail-biting time when they were attempting that penalty kick because anytime you can give your opponent a glimmer of hope you could get into trouble.
“We created chances in the second half and were able to get their goalie moving and scored.”
Deitrick finished with 18 saves as the Mustangs finished with 22 shots on goal and seven corners.
Midd-West and undefeated Warrior Run meet Saturday at a site and time to be determined.