Gateway shuts out North Allegheny in WPIAL first round
Gateway played a pair of Section 2-AAA teams at the end of the regular season — section champion Seneca Valley and runner-up Hampton — and Gators head coach Kevin Sanders said that helped his team a lot as it prepared for and matched up with North Allegheny in a WPIAL first-round playoff game Saturday at Gateway High School's Antimarino Stadium.
The Tigers, the third-place team from Section 2, came in with a 12-5 overall record, but the Gators made sure their season didn't continue.
Gateway, the Section 3 champions, kept North Allegheny out of the net and scored three times in a 3-0 victory.
“I thought North Allegheny had a really good midfield,” Sanders said.
“All the teams in Section 2 are that way. They made us work on defense constantly. I thought our defense kept their forwards in check. They had a really nice shot late in the game, and (Gateway junior goalkeeper) Allie (Warsaw) made a great save. It was the save of the game. I thought (the NA player) was going to score.”
The Gators advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons and were scheduled to play Canon-McMillan on Wednesday at Baldwin High School.
The game was to be play- ed past the deadline for this week's edition.
Gateway, the No. 5 seed, improved to 15-3-1 with the win over the Tigers, while Canon-McMillan upended No. 4 Penn-Trafford, the Section 1 champion, 3-1, in the first round.
The Big Macs, the third-place team from Section 5, improved to 11-5-3 with the triumph over the Warriors.
Canon-McMillan's win over Penn-Trafford denied Gateway a rematch with the Warriors from earlier this season, as well as a fourth straight meeting in the WPIAL playoffs.
Gateway thought it got an early lead against North Allegheny, but it had a goal taken away about 10 minutes into the game on an offsides call.
“We got a shot, and the goalie made a great save,” Sanders said.
“It went right to (Emily) Stevens, and she put it in. The referee said she was offsides when the kick was taken. But the girls weren't rattled. They kept at it. Staying focused is something this team has done well all year.”
Gateway broke through in the 29th minute of the first half, as sophomore Maggie Hilton delivered a corner kick that was headed in past the North Allegheny defender by senior Danielle Kravits.
The goal was Kravits' third this season by way of a header off a corner kick.
“That really got us going,” Sanders said.
The Gators maintained the one-goal lead for close to 20 minutes and then added a second right before halftime.
Senior Carly Seneca corralled a throw-in from sophomore Lizzie Pendice and did the rest. She beat the North Allegheny goalie for her team-best 23rd goal of the season.
“We were really battling them on the sidelines,” Sanders said. “Lizzie had a nice throw in and found Carly deep. Carly made a quick spin, and I don't know if the goalie didn't see her, but Carly's shot kind of caught her off guard. We knew coming into the playoffs our restarts — throw-ins, corner kicks or goal kicks — had to be even better.”
The Gateway players were feeling good about themselves at halftime, but, Sanders said, he wanted them to remained focused and not get away from their game just because they had a two-goal advantage.
“From the time we scored the first goal, we were screaming that it was still 0-0. That was the mindset,” Sanders said.
“We wanted them to stay aggressive and not relax because we had the lead.”
Stevens tallied her 10th goal of the season 12 minutes into the second half on an odd-man breakaway after receiving the ball from Hilton.
Hilton's two assists in the game put her at a team-leading 15 for the season.
“One of their defenders fell down, and the ball bounced right to Maggie,” Sanders said. “Carly made a run, and the sweeper went with Carly. That left Stevens wide open.”
Sanders said North Allegheny came out in the second half and was aggressive offensively as the Tigers were pressing to get back in the game.
“We made some quick subs because they were coming at us,” Sanders said. “We were able to counter with a quick goal.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.