MILTON — The Milton girls varsity soccer team had an opportunity to inch closer to a District IV playoff berth with a win over Shikellamy in a HAC crossover match on Thursday.

However, the Black Panthers came out flat and the Braves were able to capitalize on Milton’s sluggish start as Shikellamy scored three times in the first 40 minutes to provide all the offense they would need to capture a 3-0 victory at Milton Area High School.

“That first half, that’s not who Milton girls soccer is,” Milton head coach Rod Harris said after the game. “That was the worst half of soccer we’ve played all season long. I don’t understand why we come out flat because clearly you could see what we did in the second half so that’s on my team to figure out if we want to move forward and make it to the district playoffs.”

Shikellamy carried the play in the first half, but the Braves did not begin to overwhelm the Black Panthers until the 19:13 mark when Shikellamy’s Erin Swanger scored a goal off of a corner kick. The corner was set up by an errant clearing attempt by Milton which crossed the goal to the right of the net and set up the corner.

Following Swanger’s first goal, the missed opportunities began to snowball on Milton which led to the Braves having several chances in front of the Black Panthers’ net. Milton goalkeeper Kamryn Snyder stood strong in the cage and made a couple of key saves, but Swanger scored again at 21:52 when she hit a high strike from the top of the box which narrowly cleared a leaping Snyder’s hand to make the score 2-0.

Shikellamy scored its third and final goal of the game at at 34:04 when Swanger corralled a rebound and found Kendra Mull alone to Snyder’s right for an easy tap-in to make the score 3-0.

Milton got its best chance of the half at 36:10 when Janae Bergey broke in alone on net and fired a hard shot from 15 feet away which Shikellamy keeper Cassi Ronk was able to fight off with her right hand.

Ronk, a freshman keeper, made three more point-blank saves on Bergey in the second half and though Harris applauded the Braves’ netminder, he noted how his team must start stronger so that they are able to convert those chances in future games.

“When you play (like we did) in the first half, it becomes harder and harder to create your own luck moving forward,” Harris said. “Then things like that happen, you get a breakaway and put it into the keeper’s gut or get a breakaway and hit the crossbar. It’s just one of those things where it’s hard to get yourself going and create your own opportunities when you start out a game like that.”

Bergey led all players with nine shots on goal, though she was unable to find the back of the net. Ronk made nine saves on the afternoon, four of which stopped Bergey in prime scoring position. Milton got its last, best chance when a loose ball trickled onto Bergey’s foot and she fired a rocket, but Ronk was able to deflect the ball away with her left arm to keep the Black Panthers scoreless.

Milton (7-7-1) needs to win two of its final three games to clinch an automatic berth in the District IV playoffs. The Black Panthers will next travel to Turbotville to take on Warrior Run at 7 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s there for them right now, but they need to figure it out for themselves,” Harris said. “For some reason we start out flat in the first half and come alive in the second half. If they want to win and move on, it’s right there for the taking.”

Shikellamy 3, Milton 0

at Milton

First half

Shik—Eryn Swanger, assist Alexa Shaw, 19:13 Shik—Swanger, assist Shaw, 21:52 Shik—Kendra Mull, assist Swanger, 34:04

Second half

None

Shots: Shik, 18-12; Corners: 5-5; Saves: Milton, Kamryn Snyder, 15; Shikellamy, Cassi Ronk, 9.

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