Southmoreland hands Yough its first section loss
A fast start to the game coupled with a strong finish to the first half were enough to help the Southmoreland girls soccer team hold off visiting Yough for a 2-1 victory in a Section 1-AA contest on Monday.
“It's a huge win for us,” Southmoreland coach Bob King said, noting that his team is starting to get healthy, and that starting the game on a strong note was key in earning a win over the Cougars. “We were ready to play, and we had our heads on.”
The Scotties (5-3, 4-2) couldn't have asked for a better start. After gaining possession in the opening minute, Southmoreland worked the ball forward to Paige Weaver. Weaver was able to race in and beat Yough keeper Leigh Appolonia for an early marker that gave the Scotties a quick 1-0 lead.
“We built it up,” King said. “We didn't just kick it in. We were able to get Paige on the other side of it.”
Weaver made no mistake, and the Scotties spent the majority of the first half fighting off Yough's possession attack. The Cougars controlled much of the action in the first 40 minutes but were unable to beat Southmoreland keeper Emily Burkhart.
“I'm proud of them,” Yough coach Dann Appolonia said. “We had much better of the play, but Southmoreland played a good game and deserved to win. I think we played well and had opportunities, but we didn't convert. Their goalie made some key saves.”
While the Cougars controlled the tempo most of the first half, the Scotties generated some chances off of the rush. Leigh Appolonia made some nice stops to keep it a one-goal game, but in the final two minutes of the half, the Scotties earned a corner kick.
Off the corner kick, Riley Dixon headed a shot that clanked off the crossbar. Staying determined, Dixon tracked down the loose ball in the slot and buried a shot into the net to make the score 2-0.
“She got the goal on the rebound,” King said of Dixon. “She was tenacious.”
Dixon's tenacity resulted in what turned out to be the game-winner.
In the second half, the Scotties tilted the field and kept Yough bottled up early. But the Cougars found their legs and got back on the press.
Yough had several quality scoring chances, but Southmoreland maintained a two-goal edge thanks to some saves by Burkhart and a fanclear by Brittney Leonard as she kicked a ball out of danger just as it was about to cross the goal line.
Undaunted, the Cougars kept coming, and their consistent effort eventually paid off as Natalie Luppold got loose in front of Burkhart and slid a shot into the goal to make it a one-goal game with about 12 minutes remaining.
“In the last 10 minutes, we were on pins and needles,” King said. “They were pushing really hard, but Emily has just been phenomenal.”
Down the stretch, Burkhart made several more saves, and the Southmoreland defense held up for the victory. For the Cougars (6-2, 4-1), it was their first loss in section play this season. They fell to second place behind Mt. Pleasant, The two goals surrendered by the Cougars matched the total they had given up in their previous seven games.
“We played well, but in some games, you can't start slow,” Dann Appolonia said. “We started slow and we paid for it.”
Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at email@example.com.