A little bit more speed and a little bit more skill.
And a great sense of timing on offense.
Those traits were just enough to send Windber to a 3-2 victory over a game Fannett-Metal squad in the District 5 Class 1A boys soccer championship at Northern Bedford's Panther Community Stadium on Thursday night.
"They had a lot more speed, especially on the flanks, and they exposed us on the outside," F-M coach Greg Best said. "But we played them punch for punch, right down to having a chance in the last five seconds."
It was the Ramblers' ability to answer both of the Tigers' goals that ultimately made the difference.
Fannett-Metal, which finished its season 14-7, took the lead midway through the first half when Dylan Seibert took a long throw-in and Wyatt Thorne broke through to head the ball inside the near post.
Thorne said, "Just about every time we had a corner or deep throw-in in the first half, I was able to get past my mark. That time I was able to get to the ball and put it on goal."
However, Windber did not stay behind for long. Justin Vasas, who was a thorn in F-M's side all night, used his speed to carry the ball down the right wing to the end line, and he crossed it back inside the box to a wide-open Austin Curtis, who tapped in the tying goal just 3:25 later.
The Tigers nearly took a lead into halftime, but Mikell McGee was stopped on a fine save by Rambler keeper Jonathan Guaetta. McGee danced through the defense to the right side and let fly a shot to the far post, but Guaetta dove full-length and tipped the ball away with his outstretched foot.
"In the second half we wanted to do a better job of keeping possession," Windber coach Brett Hoffman said. "I think we created a lot of room in the midfield and executed well. That got us that early goal."
Vasas motored around the defense on the right side again, and his low shot snuck inside the far post for a 2-1 advantage.
Fannett-Metal, however, although outshot 19-7 for the game, was not done. With 27 minutes left, McGee got to a loose ball and somehow threaded a shot through several defenders and into the net. It was the 108th and final goal of his fine career.
But it took the Ramblers only 3:13 to regain the lead. And again it was Vasas who hurt them. He got the ball deep on the right side and his cross to the far post enabled Cameron Roxby to head the ball into the net.
Best said, "When we got beat we were able to cover that guy, but that was leaving somebody else open on the far post."
"I didn't see us show up completely tonight," McGee said. "Maybe it was nerves, but I thought they were able to just pass it around us too much."
Thorne said, "They took it down to the flag really well, and we hadn't seen too many teams do that this year."
Windber center back Joe Cominsky said, "We did well with possession and we were able to get to the end line a lot."
That made it difficult for Tigers goalkeeper Colby Adams, who made eight saves.
"It was a different challenge," Adams said. "The ball was slick and bouncing hard on the grass. I was trying to cut off their passes at the near post, but they kept getting through."
Hoffman was asked if he ever felt comfortable with the lead.
"I wouldn't say comfortable, but still confident," he said. "We had to come back twice against Southern Fulton in the first round and got behind again tonight. But I think we were confident both times. Kudos to that No. 11 (McGee). He's a phenomenal player, but I think we just have a couple more weapons."
NOTES: Windber (17-3) will play District 6 rep Bishop McCort in the first round of states next week ... Only eight fouls were committed all game, and at least three were for handballs ... The loss snapped a nine-game win streak for F-M.