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Team Pittsburgh U19 girls squad pleased with effort at Nationals

| Thursday, April 18, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
The Team Pittsburgh U19 Tier I girls squad captured the USA Hockey Mid-Am District Tournament Championship.

When a hockey game goes into overtime, it can end quickly or sometimes seemingly last forever.

In the quarterfinal round of the USA Hockey Tier-I Under-19 Girls National Championships in San Jose, Calif., Team Pittsburgh's bid for the national title went into three overtimes against longtime rival Assabet Valley Red. A quick turnover ended the game, shocking Team Pittsburgh, 4-3.

“One of our forwards went to chip it out of the zone and she ended up giving it away to the other team and they scored,” goaltender Taylor Cestra said.

“They got a lucky bounce,” said defenseman Kelli Mackey. “We had a lot of chances to score and they just came out with the win.”

The action went back and forth in the competitive game.

“It was just an awesome game,” said head coach Greg Carter. “They had some chances. Our goalie made some amazing saves.”

Assabet went on to win the title over Chicago Mission, 1-0.

The players are disappointed with the outcome, but not with their effort.

“It was a long game and my team, we stuck together throughout it,” said left wing Kasidy Anderson. “We basically went out there and tried our hardest.”

Pittsburgh took too many penalties, and although the players didn't agree with the officiating, they accepted it as part of the game.

“That's how it works,” Mackey said.

The team won all three district tournament games to qualify for Nationals, but got off to a slow start once they got to the pool-play round.

“The first two were maybe the worst games that we ever played together,” Anderson said.

The Buffalo Bisons defeated Team Pittsburgh, 9-4, in the first game. The Bisons scored on four of their five power plays, as well as on a penalty kill and penalty shot.

“We were a little flat with the time change,” Carter said.

In the second game, Team Pittsburgh gave up two power-play goals, losing to Chicago Mission, 3-0.

Team Pittsburgh's players come from around the country, and they do not get much time to work together.

“Most of us go to boarding school. We don't practice much except for maybe the day before a tournament,” said Anderson. “If we were to practice together as much as the other teams do, we would be even better than we are.”

The team solidified its efforts in the third game, winning, 6-0, over the Massachusetts Spitfires. Pittsburgh knew it had to keep the goal differential high in order to advance.

“It was really nerve-wracking and everyone had a lot of pressure,” Cestra said.

Cestra fought off 24 shots on goal, including a penalty shot, to keep the shutout going.

“We went out there and I had a hat trick and (Gracen Hirschy) had a hat trick, too,” Anderson said. “Our goalie kept us in the game with a shutout and we had hope again and we were just grateful to still be in and going to the quarterfinals.”

Amanda Iannuzzi is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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