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Gateway answers challenge with victory over Panthers

| Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
Times Express
Gary Bills | Times Express Gateway senior Rebecca Smith pushes the ball up field during a varsity girls soccer game against Franklin Regional last Saturday.

The Gateway and Franklin Regional varsity girls soccer teams no longer are in the same section, but the Gators and Panthers have no less of a rivalry this season.

The teams opened the 2012 campaign Saturday at Gateway's Antimarino Stadium, and when the dust settled, the Gators held on for a 3-2 victory.

“Both teams made some mistakes,” Gateway first-year varsity head coach Kevin Sanders said.

“But you saw two talented teams on the field. Both will be around later in the year.”

Gateway and Franklin Regional split two section games last year en route to both qualifying for the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.

The Panthers captured the Section 3-AAA champ- ionship in 2011 with a 10-2 record, while Gateway was third at 9-3.

In Saturday's matchup, the Gators set an early tone, as senior Carly Seneca scored less than two minutes into the game off an assist from junior Hanna Crable.

Franklin Regional tied the game in the 25th minute, but Gateway responded late in the half.

Sophomore Maggie Hil- ton, a top scorer for the Gators last season, put one in the back of the net with just over a minute until the break.

Sophomore midfielder Rachel Giannangeli assist- ed on the goal, and the Gators led at the half, 2-1.

“We came out really fast,” Sanders said.

“Our midfielders and forwards came out quick. They were really moving. Then, Franklin Regional picked it up and were outplaying us for a while. After they scored to tie it, they kept coming. Then, we kind of got control of the game back in our favor in the last 10 minutes of the half. Scoring that second goal was big for us. It gave us a lot of momentum going into halftime.”

Gateway kept the mo- mentum in the early minutes of the second half, and the Gators made it 3-1 on a goal from senior Danielle Kravits.

Hilton started the play with a corner kick to the front of the net, and Kravits did the rest, as she headed the ball past the Franklin Regional goalkeeper.

Despite the two-goal lead, Sanders said, he sensed the Panthers were going to keep coming at Gateway.

“We got a little complacent when it was 1-0 and again at 3-1,” he said.

Franklin Regional made it 3-2 with a little over five minutes left.

“(Franklin) had the run of play for eight to 10 minutes before the goal. We had a couple of opportunities to make it 4-1 but just couldn't convert.”

Junior Allie Warsaw was in net for Gateway, and she picked up the win.

The Panthers finished the game with a 12-7 shot advantage.

“Overall, I'm happy with the result,” Sanders said.

“So many are coming back who have been injured. We have to work on a few things defensively, but I know we can score goals.”

Gateway was scheduled to open Section 3 play Wednesday at Woodland Hills. The game was to be played past the deadline for this week's edition.

The Gators host Penn Hills in section play on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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