MERCERSBURG >> Greencastle-Antrim had to feel a little fortunate to escape from Mercersburg with a girls soccer victory Thursday night.
The Blue Devils were out-played for much of the night by rival James Buchanan, but the defense hung on strong enough to capture a 2-1 Mid Penn Colonial Division victory at the gorgeous Rocket Soccer Complex.
"We played two of the best teams in the division this week and took them both to the hilt," said JB coach Terry Appleby, whose team lost 2-0 to Waynesboro on Tuesday. "I think we could be playing the best of any team in the division – we're doing a lot of things right."
The only thing the Rockets (9-7, 4-5 MPC) didn't do well was finish their chances, and they had a bunch of them.
The crossbar intervened twice when G-A goalkeeper Jenay Faulkner was beaten on shots by Haley Alger and Madison Peck in the second half. Devil defender Riley Gelsinger saved a shot that appeared ready to sneak just inside the left post. And Faulkner herself made 12 saves.
Of James Buchanan's 21 shots, 15 were either on target or off the crossbar.
Appleby said, "At one point in the season I think we were too focused on scoring and getting a win, and I said, 'Let's just do what we do well and let the results take care of themselves.' And we've played better since then."
G-A central defender Meghan Hirneisen, who was all over the field putting out potential fires, said, "Every time we play here they have some kind of special night (it was Senior Night on Thursday), and they get really pumped up and ready to play."
The Rockets started the game with four shots on goal before Greencastle (10-4-1, 6-4 MPC) got organized. Later in the half, a fine cross by Aspen Anderson gave Alger a chance, but Faulkner came out to smother the shot.
But the Blue Devils slowly began to assert themselves and it resulted in the game's first goal just 3:59 before halftime. A bouncing ball came into the JB penalty area and goalkeeper Nina Shatzer, a defender and G-A's Paige Johnson all arrived at the same spot. The ball then popped free to Johnson, who calmly kicked it into the open goal.
James Buchanan nearly tied it with 30 minutes left when Alger took off down the right wing. Her ringing shot got over Faulkner, but ricocheted off the crossbar. Anderson just missed getting a foot on the rebound, and Sydney Benedick's follow-up shot was snared by Faulkner.
But JB did finally even the score at 1-1 with 15 minutes left. On the Rockets' only corner kick of the game, Benedick sent one into the mouth of the goal. Several players from both teams jumped for the header, but it glanced off the head of Taylor Gorman and into the side netting.
"It did hit my head, but I didn't know it was going in," Gorman said.
But it didn't take the Blue Devils long to take the lead right back. Alyssa Denkovich sent a corner kick out away from the far post and Ally Rudy got her head on it and dropped it into the net.
"Our goal just kind of happened," Hirneisen said, "and it was so fast after they had tied it."
Appleby said, "We didn't challenge the ball way up high."
"For a defender, it's deflating giving that goal up after we tied it," said Gorman, who had the task of marking Rudy, the area's leading scorer, for much of the night. "It's hard to play her on defense because her speed and flicks are so tough."
James Buchanan 1
First half — (GA) Paige Johnson, 3:59.
Second half — (JB) Taylor Gorman, asst. Sydney Benedick, 15:32, (GA) Ally Rudy, asst. Alyssa Denkovich, 13:27.
Shots — GA 15, JB 21; Shots on goal — GA 7, JB 13; Corner kicks — GA 3, JB 1; Saves — GA 12 (Jenay Faulkner), JB 5 (Nina Shatzer); Fouls — GA 8, JB 6; Offsides — GA 1, JB 5; Yellow cards — GA 1.