JOHNSONBURG — The third-seeded Ridgway girls soccer team started off the District 9 playoffs in a big way as Cassidy King scored a hat trick, all of them coming in the first half, in a 3-0 shutout win over No. 6 Port Allegany on Tuesday evening at Memorial Field in Johnsonburg in the Class A quarterfinals.
“Our team is coming together right when we want them to come together,” said Ridgway coach Greg Maddalena. “Hopefully this makes us get over our hump of the semis.”
The win marks the fifth year in a row that the Lady Elkers will appear in the D-9 Class A semifinals, but that round has been the downfall for Ridgway as they have been eliminated in the semifinals in all four previous years.
The Lady Elkers will play second-seeded Elk County Catholic in the semis on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at DuBois High School. The Lady Crusaders defeated Brookville, 4-1, on Tuesday.
“We’ve had a great program year after year, and we just can’t get past the semifinals,” said Maddalena. “We’re hoping this is our year. We’re playing ECC. We beat them twice during the season. That doesn’t mean anything. I think it’s going to be a great matchup and we’ll see what happens.
“The girls play really hard, but the semifinals seem to haunt me.”
The other semifinal in Class A between top-seeded Brockway and No. 5 Redbank Valley will also be played at DuBois High School following the Ridgway-ECC game.
Brockway had a bye in the quarterfinals, while the Lady Bulldogs knocked off No. 4 Clarion, 2-1, on Tuesday.
Ridgway started off the night fast against the Lady Gators as their first shot was a near goal. Amanda Williams received a cross on the right wing, but the ball went high over the goal off her foot in what could have been a prime chance in the first three minutes of the game.
However, King didn’t make the home crowd wait too long as she got the Lady Elkers on the board at 6:22. Port Allegany goalkeeper Brianna Roys slid for the ball near the goal, but couldn’t come up with it as King punched the ball in for the first goal of the game.
King really gave her team the momentum just 18 seconds later as the junior put in her second goal, putting the Lady Gators in a big hole to climb out of at an early time.
Port Allegany only got one shot off in the first half, with it coming from Ryland Lawton 12 minutes into the game.
King completed her hat trick at the 20:32 mark as she received the ball not far in front of the goal in the middle of the field and blasted it at the goal for the score.
“She’s one of the impact players I have,” said Maddalena of King. “Everybody knows about her. She just has great ball skills.”
Ridgway led the shot count, 12-1, at the half.
After the three goals that all came early for Ridgway, the pace slowed way down in the second half. The Lady Elkers only got five shots off at the goal in the second half as most of the half was played in the middle of the field.
In the middle of the second half, it had appeared that Williams had got another goal with about 20 minutes left in the game. Williams shot the ball from the right wing into the top left corner of the goal. The officials had ruled that Roys had tipped the ball over the crossbar before the ball went into the goal.
Port Allegany got a couple runs at the Ridgway goal late in the second half, and one resulted in a penalty kick.
Shaylee Caulkins took the PK in the 71st minute and shot the ball to the left side of the goal, but Ridgway keeper Lindsey Kocjancic came up with the diving save to keep the Lady Gators off the scoreboard.
Kocjancic finished the night with three saves in goal, while Roys made 12 saves.
King led the Lady Elkers in shots with five, while Williams added four more.
The winners of the two D-9 Class A semifinal games will automatically have earned a spot in the PIAA Tournament, which starts on Nov. 7.