South Park girls soccer team frustrates Elizabeth Forward
Elizabeth Forward has shown it can stay with perennial WPIAL Class AA championship contender South Park.
What the Warriors haven't been able to do is beat the Eagles.
South Park (7-2-1, 7-1-1) senior Molly Shultz scored on a perfect crossing shot from 25 yards out at 12 minutes, 44 seconds of the second half to help the Trib Total Media Class AA No. 4 Eagles to a 2-1 victory over Elizabeth Forward (8-3-0, 6-2-0) to complete a season sweep of the Warriors. The loss also ended Elizabeth Forward's seven-game win streak.
In the three years since Elizabeth Forward dropped from Class AAA and landed in Section 4-AA, the Warriors are 0-6-0 against South Park and have been outscored, 20-4.
“They're a very skilled team, a very fast-paced team, and they caught us on some mental mistakes and they took advantage,” Elizabeth Forward coach Brandon Gerba said. “Simply put, they did what they needed to do to put the pressure on us and they followed through.”
This loss may have been the most frustrating of all. Trailing by a goal with 6:37 remaining in regulation, junior forward Alison Pastore slammed the rebound of her own shot into the net for the apparent tying goal, but the referee immediately waved off the score off and awarded the ball to South Park on a goal kick.
“They claimed that it was over the end line before she touched it and the end lines are different here; they're shorter than the football field and it was tough for us to see,” Gerba said. “From our angle it looked like it was close enough for it to have been OK, but they make the call. We felt that we played well enough to earn a tie, if not a win, and it's really heart-breaking for the girls.”
Elizabeth Forward weathered an early South Park flurry and quickly gained a territorial advantage. The Warriors had several outstanding opportunities, including a shot from sophomore forward Rachel Blackwell from 20 yards out that caromed off the crossbar 8:44 into the game and another four minutes later from 15 yards away by senior Macy Pekala that was smothered by Eagles goalkeeper Krista Mosi.
There was no stopping Elizabeth Forward's next chance.
After South Park played the ball into the Warriors' zone, Pekala played the ball up quickly for an outlet pass that Pastore caught up to onside and behind the defense at the 30-yard line. Pastore dribbled for 10 more yards, then snapped off a shot that rolled just inside the left post past Mosi to give Elizabeth Forward a 1-0 lead at the 17:22 mark.
Elizabeth Forward continued pressing the attack but could not add to its lead. As the half wore on, South Park slowly regained the territorial advantage and finally capitalized.
South Park missed badly on a direct free kick, but because Elizabeth Forward was unable to clear and the Eagles were able to maintain possession in the Warriors' end of the pitch.
Senior forward Taylor Barum picked up the loose ball along the right sideline from 25 yards out and lobbed a perfect crossing pass to the left side of the net, where freshman defender Amanda Luffey headed it past junior goalkeeper Jennifer Keefer to tie the game, 1-1, at 25:56.
“That was the whole game plan the second half: to step up and pressure a little bit because we gave them too much time in the first half to play the ball long and play the ball wide,” South Park coach Shelly Thropp said. “Our job was to step up and apply as much pressure as possible.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161, Ext. 1977.