Despite strong effort, Connellsville falls to Latrobe, 6-3
Although the Connellsville girls soccer team couldn't come up with a Section 1-AAA home victory against Latrobe on Monday, the Falcons can take solace in the fact that tangible improvements are starting to appear.
In the previous three meetings between Connellsville and Latrobe, the Wildcats enjoyed wins of 9-0 and 6-0 in 2012 and beat the Falcons earlier this season, 9-0.
But in Monday's matchup at Connellsville Stadium, the Falcons (5-8, 1-8) put up a much better fight before eventually succumbing, 6-3.
“We've been getting blown out by these guys the last three times we've played them,” Connellsville coach Jeff Puskar said. “We changed our game plan to take away their outside players and when we stuck to our game plan. We were effective. We had a good chance, but they are a tough nut to crack. They are a good team and they move the ball well.”
Ball possession was in Latrobe's favor for a good portion of the game, but it was the Falcons who struck first as Caitlin Fess drilled a shot on goal that skipped through the hands of Latrobe keeper Stephanie Kubus and bounced right in front of the goal. Ashton Grimm was in perfect position to knock it into a gaping net to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
But the Wildcats (8-3-1, 4-2-1) responded with the next three goals. Allison LaDuke scored on a penalty kick before Emma Kate Womack scored on a deflected ball to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. LaDuke and Womack each finished with two markers.
Leading by a goal, Latrobe got a huge tally with just 30 seconds left in the half as Rachel Campbell put a header past Connellsville keeper Marian Chearney to make it 3-1.
The Falcons kept battling and closed the gap 16 minutes into the second half as Allie Grimm converted a throw-in from Brittany Craig and scored on a liner to make it 3-2. Connellsville pressured to tie it, but the Wildcats took advantage of a fast break as Madison Meuseler broke down the right side and scored to make it 4-2. LaDuke then followed with a header into the goal off a corner with just over six minutes left.
Connellsville responded 16 seconds later as Ashton Grimm scored her second goal by burying a feed from Anna DeMarco. Connellsville almost made it a one-goal game, but a shot by Angela Bloom smacked off the crossbar. Womack then iced it with a late goal with just more than a minute remaining.
“The reason we were able to break them down is we possessed the ball and moved the ball quickly,” Latrobe coach Vincent Pimpinella said.
Pimpinella took note that the Falcons have made strides in their game.
“They have good youth coming up, but to be honest, the whole section is getting better,” Pimpinella said. “We're all chasing a moving target.”
The third-place Wildcats' next targets are first-place Penn-Trafford on Wednesday and second-place Norwin on Saturday.
“This win gives us strong position for third place with Penn-Trafford and Norwin as big challenges ahead,” Pimpinella said.
For the Falcons, next on the schedule is a game at Penn-Trafford on Thursday, and improvement continues to be the key. “I'm very proud of the girls,” Puskar said. “There are good things happening here. We're going through some growing pains, but it will help us in the future. We just have to learn to play 80 minutes.”
Jason Black is the Local Sports Editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.