Over the course of eight days the girls’ soccer team played four games—picking up two important wins against sectional foes Laurel Highlands and Chartiers Valley. The two wins clinched a playoff spot for the Lady Panthers securing them a 2nd place finish in Section 5 AAA of the WPIAL.
Against Laurel Highlands the girls demonstrated their skill and depth as they beat the Mustangs 10–0. Goals were scored by Olivia Belack (4), Carley Bogan (3), Ellie DiNardo (2), and Emma Hasco. The goals were assisted by DiNardo (2), Hasco (2), Bogan (1), and Belack (1). The halftime score was 7-0. Shortly thereafter, with about 30 minutes left, Dave Gray seemed to pull back the reins on attacking the net, this allowed the midfielders and forwards unit of Meghan Allwes, Katie Banbury, Alaina D’aloiso, Megan Ebeck, Leah Mertz and Jordan Selep to demonstrate their ball handling skills as they passed circles around the Mustangs in a Barcelona-esque fashion. Opportunities to score additional scores were apparent but the team showed restraint and sportsmanship. The shutout was recorded by the goalkeeper duo of Jocelyn Alfera and Sarah McMurtry supported by defenders Becca DiGregorio; Emily Elliott; Haylee Gans; Heather Godwin; Sami Lackner; Ashley Lahr; Bailey Mielcusny; Julia de la Parra; and Rebekah Walsh.
The Chartiers Valley game was the team’s opportunity to cement a playoff bid and they took it to them early. Sammi Witsberger fed assists to both Olivia Belack and Carley Bogan to get things going. Then Emma Hasco received a pass from Olivia Belack to make it 3-0. To finish the scoring Carley Bogan tallied her second goal of the afternoon with an assist from Emma Hasco. The win was a solid performance for the girls against a playoff contending Char Valley squad. The shutout was recorded by Jocelyn Alfera with support from defenders Heather Godwin, Ashley Lahr, Sami Lackner, Bailey Mielcusny and Julia de la Parra.
One day later, the team travelled to Moon Twp. to play the powerful Lady Tigers who came into the game with only one defeat (in OT) and a goal differential of 115–5 (not a typo; I did the math). Last year, during the girls WPIAL championship season, Moon and USC split the two meetings between the clubs. This would be the only time they meet this year due to sectional and group realignments. Moon came out strong and possessed a great deal of speed on their attacking line. Two goals from Moon had our girls on the ropes but they worked hard to get back in the game. Brianna Erdman scored a goal off a Carley Bogan cross that was created from some good work on the wing by Jordan Selep. Unfortunately, time elapsed before the girls could get the 2nd goal which seemed to be almost imminent based on their work rate. The game ended with Moon up 2-1.
On Wednesday night, the girls hosted the two-time defending state champion Peters Twp. Indians. Earlier in the season, Peters won 3-0 in which the Indians were dominant in the first half. At first the contest seemed to be starting the same way with three early goals from the Indians. Each goal showed why Peters' is so highly ranked and successful. This time though our Lady Panthers would not give up. Just before the half, defender Sami Lackner struck a perfectly placed ball into the upper corner of the net off a free kick of about 25 yards. The half ended at 3-1. With new hope, the girls played aggressively and evenly with Peters to start the second half. Then Carley Bogan struck from about 20 yards out with a drive that the Peter’s keeper could not handle making it a one goal game at 3-2. Unfortunately, less than a minute later Peters struck back with a laser form 25 yards to put the Indians up by two. The game remained relatively even in play but Peters scored their 5th goal off a corner kick which magically found its way into the net.
Many neutral observers at the game would say that Peter’s had the run of play but they would also say that both teams played some of their best soccer of the season. Goalkeeper Jocelyn Alfera made 13 saves, many of which demonstrated her great shot blocking skills. The defense was able to hold Veronica Latsko scoreless (a Division 1 Virginia recruit and PA player of the year in 2011). The offense scored more goals on Peters than any team in the WPIAL this season. Both of USC’s three-goal losses to Peters this season were the closest any WPIAL opponents have come against the Lady Indians.
On Saturday the girls travel north to play Erie McDowell, and then host South Park in the team’s final regular season game on Monday, Oct. 15, (it is also Breast Cancer Awareness night at the stadium).