DuBOIS — A hat-trick from Rachel Sickeri coupled with a strong defensive performance led DuBois to a thrilling 3-2 victory over visiting Clearfield Monday.
The Lady Beavers moved to 2-0 on the year under first-year head coach Steve Graeca as they held the visitors in check for most of the evening after Clearfield had opened its season with a 15-0 victory over Brookville Saturday.
That stout defensive performance was highlighted by keeping sophomore Elle Smith, who scored 37 goals as a freshman, off the scoresheet.
Graeca, who credited his entire defense with a strong performance in the win, pointed to Leah McFadden, who marked Smith throughout the game.
“Leah McFadden was fantastic, she man-marked her the entire game and she really held her (Smith) in check,” Graeca said.
On the offensive end, DuBois came out of the gates strong, as they controlled most of the possession over the first several minutes of the game, leading to a handful of scoring opportunities.
The Lady Beavers would eventually find the back of the net on their fourth shot of the game just over six minutes in.
Emily Graeca connected a through ball with Sickeri, who found space between a pair of Lady Bison defenders as she made a run into the box.
A few yards inside of the 18-yard box, Sickeri fired a low shot past Clearfield goalkeeper Cayliegh Walker to give DuBois a 1-0 advantage at the 6:09 mark of the first half.
“That was a great shot from Rachel (Sickeri) off a great pass from Emily (Graeca) and we got even more aggressive after we scored that goal,” Graeca said. “All game we challenged every 50-50 ball and played some of the best soccer these girls have played in a long time.”
The visitors battled back though, as Alayna Winters nearly knotted the score just under three minutes later, but Lady Beaver keeper Kara Tilson made a diving save to preserve the lead.
Clearfield broke through just a few minutes later, as Emma Hipps fired a low shot past Tilson to knot the game at one just 5:02 after Sickeri’s goal gave the home team the lead.
While the two sides traded scoring opportunities over the final 25-plus minutes of the first half, neither side could break through as the game remained tied at the half.
The Lady Bison had the three best scoring chances during that stretch, as in the 16th minute, just over a minute after their tying goal, Winters delivered a through ball that was chased down by Smith.
Smith got free past the defense as she had only Tilson to beat, but the DuBois keeper came up with a big save to keep the game tied.
With just under eight minutes left in the first half, Winters made a long run around the left side of the Lady Beavers’ defense, as she looked to sneak a shot past Tilson at the near post.
Tilson was able to get her left leg out to stop the shot, as the rebound deflected right back to Winters, who looked to head the ball into the net, but Tilson was there for yet another save.
Smith had another scoring opportunity in the final five minutes of the half, as she picked off an attempted clearance near the top of the box, firing a strong shot on net, but Tilson was there yet again to make the save.
Tilson finished the game with 11 saves for DuBois, as the Lady Bison had a 16-12 edge in shots on the night.
The second half brought more of the same, with each team looking to break the tie, but each side’s keeper coming up big for their respective teams.
First it was Tilson, charging out and sliding to pick the ball away from Smith, who was all alone on a run into the box just under seven minutes into the second half.
Walker came up with a strong save of her own in the 53rd minute, as the leaped to get a hand on a shot by Graeca from well outside the box, deflecting the ball off the crossbar as it was eventually cleared out of danger.
With time beginning to wind down, Graeca and Sickeri connected once again in the 69th minute to break the 1-1 tie.
Once again it was Sickeri receiving a through ball from the freshman as she found herself all alone in the center of the box, ripping a low shot towards the left post and out of reach of a diving Walker to put the home team in front 2-1 with 11:14 left in the game.
Just under six minutes later Sickeri completed the hat-trick, looping a free kick from well outside the box over a leaping Walker and just under the bar to give DuBois a 2-goal edge with 5:15 remaining.
Clearfield’s last gasp came when Hipps delivered a cross that found its way through the box to Lydia Brown, who converted an open look on goal to cut the deficit in half with 35 seconds to play.
Tilson was shaken up on the play and looked to stay in, but the referees ruled she must be removed, as Jasmine Carney played the final 35 seconds in net without facing a shot as the Lady Beavers held on for the 3-2 win.
“I think we caught them off guard a little bit, but I know we won’t the second time,” Graeca said. “Both teams have some really talented underclassmen and hopefully we can begin to turn this into a good rivalry.”
DuBois is back in action Saturday as it visits Karns City.
Score By Halves
Clearfield 1 1 — 2
DuBois 1 2 — 3
D—Rachel Sickeri (Emily Graeca assist), 6:09
C—Emma Hipps, 14:11
D—Rachel Sickeri (Emily Graeca assist), 68:46
D—Rachel Sickeri (free kick), 74:45
C—Lydia Brown (Emma Hipps assist), 79:25
Shots: Clearfield 16, DuBois 12. Saves: Clearfield 7 (Cayleigh Walker), DuBois 11 (Kara Tilson). Corner kicks: Clearfield 5, DuBois 2.