Raiders, Eagles tie
Tamaqua midfielder Alexandra Wagner kicks the ball forward as Blue Mountain's Jacqueline Woleschok (32) closes in. PATRICK DEUTSCH/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Scoring goals has been no problem for Tamaqua this season, with one exception.
After 180 minutes of soccer, the Lady Raiders have yet to find the net against Blue Mountain.
In their first meeting back on Sept. 11 at Orwigsburg, the Lady Eagles stunned the defending District 11 Class AA fall champion Raiders, handing them their first loss by a 3-0 count.
A game-time rainstorm hit for the rematch Wednesday afternoon, and the teams slogged their way to a soggy scoreless deadlock in a Schuylkill League Division I battle on Stadium Hill.
Tamaqua and Blue Mountain also remain tied atop the division standings with identical 6-1-1 records.
Outside of the league, however, it's a different story. The Raiders are 11-2-1 overall, with their only other defeat a 3-2 setback to Scranton Prep. Meanwhile, the Eagles are 6-5-1 and entered their Raider rematch off of a 2-1 loss to Pottsville Tuesday.
"This didn't hurt us," said Tamaqua coach Clem McCarroll. "We are still tied with them, so there's no damage done. Under these conditions, that's the best you can do."
The Raiders didn't help themselves, either. The Eagles now own the head to head tiebreaker for the division title should both teams win their remaining league games.
Tamaqua has four of the league's top eight goal scorers, including Allison Updike, who leads the circuit in goals (16) and points (34). Lauren Mateyak has 14 goals, Kailee Rottet 13 and Kayla Hope 11. The Eagles have kept them off the board.
The precipitation and wet field seemed to affect the attack-oriented Raiders more than coach Mike Burcik's defensive-minded Eagles. Tamaqua had its share of rushes upfield, but couldn't connect on its crossing passes in front of the net.
"The whole middle of the field was bad. It was like running in quicksand," said McCarroll. "We're more known for our speed. We like to attack with our four scorers in the middle, but as it started raining, the traction was bad and it was hard to get many charges."
The first half was played close to the vest, with only five shots on goal, three by the Raiders.
In the second half, the Raiders pressed for a score. Midfielder Carly O'Malley had some good sideline rushes, but for the most part Tamaqua looked to direct any shot it could on goalkeeper Allison Ebling. The Raiders outshot the Eagles 11-2 for the half.
"Our strategy in the second half was to take the quickest shots we could," noted McCarroll. "With the rain, you had to shoot it as soon as the ball was on your foot, or else it would be too slick and you'd never get it back again."
Neither side mustered much of a scoring chance in the two 10-minute overtime periods, so the game ended with the Raiders holding a 15-4 edge in shots but without the "golden goal."
Raider netminder Chey Bates made six saves.
"I wasn't surprised that they played us toe to toe again," remarked McCarroll. "It seems like they match up well against us."