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Lady Leps come up short semifinals

| Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Mars's #21 Erica Schwab, kicks ball away from Belle Vernon's #5 Hayden Pascoe, in WPIAL Class AA Semifinals at Gateway High School. Final Mars, 2,Belle Vernon,1. Jim Ference | The Valley Independent

Belle Vernon Area's march towards a WPIAL Class AA title ended Wednesday night, but it wasn't without heart and effort.

BVA scrapped and clawed for 80 minutes with top-ranked Mars before bowing 2-1, A furious last minute attempt to tie the contest came up short for BVA.

“The girls played well and they played hard, but unfortunately we couldn't get one to tie it up,” BVA coach Paul Sasko said. “Mars is very talented up front and they are a very good team. My hat is off to them.”

Coming into the contest, Sasko said it was vital for his team to come out fast and show Mars (18-1-1) it wouldn't back down, and that's exactly what BVA (17-3-1) did.

The Lady Leps had the first scoring opportunity 3:58 into the contest. As the ball was played to the middle of the goalie's box, Sam Mendicino made a stretching effort to redirect the ball toward the net.

However, the ball played faster than expected on the wet turf and the ball slid past Mendicino before she could get off a solid shot.

“Right off the bat we took it to them and I think it may have surprised them a little bit,” Sasko said. “We just couldn't capitalize and if we got that first goal, it changes the pace of the game.”

Mars capitalized on its first scoring chance of the match with 23:01 to go in the first half as Lydia Dennis put the ball past a diving Ashly Gagliardi in net.

The goal seemed to put BVA on its heels for a few moments, but it regrouped and went into halftime down 1-0.

Gagliardi, a junior netminder who made the All-WPIAL team, faced 11 first half shots while BVA only got three good shots on goal.

The teams countered each another for the first 25 minutes of the second half, and Mars appeared to put the game away with 14:09 left when Karli Paracca dribbled past multiple BVA defenders and lost control of the ball, but she regained control and put it past Gagliardi.

With 12:39 left, BVA junior Hayden Pascoe played a loose ball in the Mars goal box and buried it into the back of the net.

“We put pressure on them and Hayden played the loose ball,” Sasko said.

BVA continued to force the issue, but Mars kept playing the ball deep into BVA territory to kill the clock.

“We had some looks but we couldn't get quality shots,” Sasko said. “But we will regroup.”

BVA plays Saturday in a consolation match against Central Valley, a 2-1 loser in overtime to Moon, with the winner advancing to the PIAA Class AA tournament.

Bill Hughes is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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