ST. MARYS — It took awhile to shake off the concerns of the “three times in a season” superstition, but the Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders soccer team was able to advance and move on.
Tuesday at Benzinger Park, the second-seeded Lady Crusaders notched a 4-1 win over No. 7 seed Brookville. It was the third time they’ve beaten their Upper Allegheny Valley Soccer League rivals this year.
ECC beat Brookville, 5-1, in their first meeting, then a tighter 3-1 decision at home Oct. 17.
“I was pretty concerned and the girls were confident in practice, but I told them they’re going to come out firing,” ECC head coach Ken Vogt said. “The playoffs are a different animal and they definitely did.”
Maddie Sorg’s goal off Bethany Feldbauer’s assist with 5:50 left in the first half broke the scoreless tie in a game controlled mostly by the Lady Crusaders, who owned a big edge in possession time and field position to go along with an 8-3 shot edge and 11-0 advantage in corner kicks.
The Lady Crusaders suffered a big blow when junior striker Maddie Kear went down with an apparent serious knee injury in the first five minutes of the game. She had to be carried off the field and her near-term status is certainly doubtful.
ECC broke it open in the second half with three straight goals to build the lead to 4-1. McKayla Wilson scored off a pass from Sady VanAlstine less than six minutes into the half, then McKayla Wilson set up two straight Catherine Cerroni goals at the 7:56 and 5:56 marks.
“Our passing came around. We’re doing a lot of good things right now,” Vogt said. “I think once you get one or two goals up, it kind of takes the wind of their sails a little bit. They were greatly improved every time we played them and I expected it to not be an easy game.”
The Lady Crusaders (13-5-2) advance to the semifinal round against Ridgway. That game will be played next Tuesday (Oct. 31) at DuBois High School at 4 p.m. Ridgway beat sixth-seeded Port Allegany, 3-0, Tuesday.
The other semifinal pitting top-seeded Brockway against fifth-seeded Redbank Valley will follow at 6 p.m. Redbank edged fourth-seeded Clarion, 2-1, Tuesday.
Jillian Taylor scored off an indirect kick for the Lady Raiders’ lone goal with 5:30 left in the game. Hailey Shields started the sequence, then nudged a pass to Taylor who blasted it in from just outside the left wing penalty box line.
“The first half, we had a few opportunities,” Raiders head coach Matt Kramer said. “We’re trying to play a little tighter defense and not push up quite as much and keep it close going into the second half and maybe get it to the last 20 minutes then give our offense a chance.
“Overall, I felt the girls played very well. I definitely think the score doesn’t justify how well the girls played.”
The season ended at 8-10-1 for the Lady Raiders, who ended last year without enough players to start this year if some new bodies showed up for this season. They did and head coach Matt Kramer was happy to see how his team progressed.
“The girls worked real hard and kept plugging away at it and kept knocking teams off,” Kramer said. “We tied Redbank valley, beat Clarion, which is seeded higher than us … and had some close games, including (top-seeded) Brockway in our last game with them.
“It’s definitely something to build off. We’re losing two seniors, and pretty much the whole group is coming back.”