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Gateway soccer teams come up short in openers

| Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Michael Love | The Times Express
Sophomore Dan Snyder, at right, looks for room to move during the varsity boys contest between the Gateway and Franklin Regional on Aug. 31, 2013.
Doug Gulasy | For The Times Express
Gateway varsity girls soccer freshman Stephanie Vojtek battles for the ball with a Franklin Regional defending during a nonsection game on Aug. 31, 2013.

The Gateway boys and girls varsity soccer teams hoped to start their seasons off on winning notes Saturday afternoon, but Franklin Regional's two squads, hosting the nonsection doubleheader, had other ideas.

The boys game saw the Panthers break through in overtime, 1-0, while the Gateway girls were not able to generate much offense in a 4-0 loss.

Girls

Franklin Regional, which returned numerous starters from last year's WPIAL quarterfinal team, didn't give Gateway much room to operate.

The Panthers defense limited the Gators to only four shots, a low total seldom seen from a Gateway girls soccer squad.

Franklin Regional, on the other hand, had just eight shots of its own, but it made half of them count.

Three Panthers goals were scored prior to halftime.

“We were slow and didn't make good decisions,” Sanders said.

The Gators won last year's meeting at Antimarino Stadium, 3-2, in overtime.

Freshman Autumn Velasquez scored twice to lead Franklin Regional in her first varsity game.

Sanders said the Panthers' four goals were scored on some form of a breakaway.

Gateway hoped to bounce back quickly after Saturday's loss, as they were slated to host Woodland Hills on Wednesday evening at Antimarino Stadium.

The Section 3-AAA game was to be completed past the deadline for this week's edition.

“It will be fixed quick,” Sanders said after Saturday's game.

“It has to be fixed quick. The kids have to be more focused for the game, and they can't shut down after mistakes. We made some mistakes in the scrimmage against Elizabeth Forward (on Aug. 22) and were able to correct them. (Saturday) we didn't. The girls know they have the talent to do well. They just have to execute.”

Gateway takes on Penn Hills on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in a section game at Penn Hills' Linton Middle School.

Because of a section bye next Wednesday, the Penn Hills matchup is the only section contest for the Gators until they host Oakland Catholic at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 16.

The Gators will be in action against Central Valley at the Hampton Tournament on Sept. 14.

Boys

The Gateway and Franklin Regional boys teams know a lot about playing each other in overtime.

Last year's game at Antimarino Stadium ended in a scoreless tie.

Saturday's matchup also headed into overtime tied 0-0, but this time, the Panthers got the game winner from junior Timmy Jolayemi to take the nonsection contest between the neighboring rivals.

“It's nice to open the season against an opponent like Franklin Regional, knowing all the quality players they have,” Duda said. “It prepared us for what's coming. We started the week in practice tweaking a few things and getting ready for section play.”

Gateway travels to Penn Hills for a Section 3-AAA game Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The Gators step away from section play Saturday when they host the Mars Planets at 2:30 p.m. at Antimarino Stadium.

Duda said he and the assistant coaches questioned a non-call on a 50-50 ball in the air near midfield during Saturday's overtime session.

“One of their players was basically on our player's back going for the ball and trying to get a header,” Duda said.

“He wouldn't allow our player to go up. They put the ball down the sidelines and took one touch in towards the goal, and it basically was a breakaway. Those things happen, and we couldn't change the outcome.”

Despite the outcome, Duda said his team played really well.

“We outshot them,” he said. “Our keeper (Matt Shapiro) played phenomenally and made some big saves when we needed them. We moved the ball very well and created chances (to score).

“The play was pretty even. Neither team had an overwhelming advantage at any one point. We just couldn't get one past their keeper.”

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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