DuBOIS — It had taken the Ridgway girls soccer team five years of playing in the district semifinals to get to the point they did on Thursday evening, playing in the D-9 championship game.
Unlike the waiting for an appearance in the championship, there was no waiting for a championship.
The Lady Elkers (16-5) drew a hold in the box in double overtime, and Rachel Schiafone drilled a game-winning penalty kick, giving Ridgway a 2-1 win for their first D-9 title in school history.
“All year, they just played so hard for me,” said Ridgway coach Greg Maddalena. “There’s just a passion and a desire to win every game. To be the first District 9 champion ever in girls soccer (in school history) is cool. I’ve been here 15 years and my goal every year is to get to this game. We’re finally here. We finally did it, and we’re just so happy.”
Ridgway took the season series after splitting the two games in the regular season. Ridgway won the first meeting at home, 5-1, while Brockway took the second meeting, 4-2, at Frank Varischetti Field.
The Lady Rovers are now 15-3 on the year heading into the PIAA Tournament on Tuesday.
“The girls gave 110 percent tonight,” said Brockway coach Jess Leadbetter. “I’m not going to take anything away from Ridgway. They played a great game. They had a plan how they were going to play against us. They executed.”
Only 1:26 into double overtime, Madeline Cowan was held in the box, which resulted in the penalty kick. Maddalena called for Schiafone to take the kick, and the senior buried the ball in the back of the net for the game-winner.
“Madeline got held. I didn’t know if they were going to call it, but she was held,” said Maddalena. “It’s the right call, but I was surprised (the officials called the hold) because it’s double overtime.
“You hate to end the game on a PK, but I didn’t want to see it go to a shootout.”
In Tuesday’s semifinal against Elk County Catholic, the game winner from Cowan in double overtime came 1:36 into overtime, just 10 seconds more than Schiafone’s PK on Thursday.
The game was scoreless for a little over 38 minutes before Cowan scored with a minute and a half to go in the first half, giving the Lady Elkers a 1-0 lead.
“We finally got that give-and-go to Maddie,” said Maddalena. “That was a great ball.”
Despite Ridgway taking the 1-0 lead into halftime, it was the Lady Rovers that led the shot count at 9-3 after the first 40 minutes.
Brockway was very close to getting the first goal of the game early in the first half as Leah Lindemuth –the team’s lone senior –nearly poked the ball in on a header in the 14th minute.
The Lady Elkers held Brockway top goal scorer Chanell Britten to just one shot for a good portion of regulation, but the sophomore evened up the game at 1 at the 57:20 mark in the second half.
Britten perfectly placed the ball in the top right corner of the goal, beating the Ridgway keeper for the equalizer.
“We knew they’d try to get the ball to Chanell,” said Maddalena. “We tried to keep the ball away from her because she’s a great scorer.
“Defending Chanell is a really big job. She’s only a sophomore. She’s a player. Our gameplan was to take her out of her game, try to keep the ball away from her as best as we can. We did that for a long time. We figured if we can contain her, we can contain the team.
“They’re a great team. They’ll be back again next year. We’ll be back next year. I’m just thrilled to death for this team.”
Britten also had a direct kick late in regulation off of a handball near the 25-yard line, but the ball sailed high of the goal.
Brockway led the shot count, 15-10, after regulation, and 21-12 for the game.
The Lady Rovers had a chance in the first overtime as well as Lindemuth’s shot was stopped by Ridgway keeper Lindsey Kocjancic. Kocjancic couldn’t pick up the ball completely and there was a clear shot at the goal, but Brockway didn’t have another player near the net.
Both teams will now prepare for the PIAA Tournament, which starts on Tuesday. Ridgway will play Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic, the third place team out of District 7, in the first round. Brockway will play WPIAL champion Greensburg Central Catholic.
“I’m so happy for our fans that came from Ridgway,” said Maddalena. “We have a lot of support from the school, and I really appreciate that, and I hope it carries on to states.”
Both games are at a time and location to be determined.