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Latrobe girls in thick of playoff chase

Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Connellsville's Anna DeMarco (20) and Latrobe's Hannah Mears battle for possession of the ball during a Section 1-AAA match Monday, Sept. 30, 2013 at Connellsville Stadium.

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By Kevin Ritchart
Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

As the 2013 season winds down, the Latrobe girls soccer team finds itself jockeying for postseason positioning in Section 1-AAA.

Entering play this week, the Wildcats were hanging on to the third and final playoff spot in the section with an overall record of 8-5-1 and a 4-4-1 mark in section play.

Latrobe's final week of the season will be comprised of a pair of games against Kiski Area — including a make-up game from earlier in the season — and a date with Hempfield.

If the Wildcats win all three contests, they'll qualify for the playoffs. If they win two of the three games, they can still qualify with some help. Franklin Regional and Kiski Area are right behind Latrobe in the section standings and could grab that third and final spot if Latrobe falters.

“It's pretty exciting,” coach Vincent Pimpinella said. “Every game matters.”

The Wildcats played tough in a pair of 3-1 losses to the top two teams in the section — Penn-Trafford and Norwin — last week.

“They exploited our temporary lapses in concentration,” Pimpinella said of Penn-Trafford. “That's been our recent history against stronger teams.”

For the Wildcats to make one last push for the postseason, Pimpinella needs his team to lock down the defensive half of the field and take advantage of scoring opportunities when they arise.

“The girls read the game pretty well,” Pimpinella said. “We're getting better in terms of concentration level.

“We just have to trust our training and wait for opportunities to attack and score.”

Much of Latrobe's scoring has been a family affair. Sisters Allison and Abby LaDuke have been the primary scorers for the Wildcats.

Allison, a senior, has nine goals and seven helpers on the season. From her center midfield spot, she keys the Wildcats offense. Her goal on Saturday staked her team to a 1-0 lead against Norwin.

“She helps us gain possession of the ball and find the side of the field with the least pressure,” Pimpinella said.

For her latest goal, Allison worked a combination play with freshman midfielder Halle Green in the left side of the penalty area and launched a rocket that found the right side of the goal.

Abby, a freshman striker, has notched eight goals and five assists. She scored Latrobe's only goal in the Penn-Trafford loss last week.

Junior midfielder Rachel Campbell has netted seven goals this season, and senior midfielder Emma Kate Womack has posted five markers.

Womack and junior Madison Mueseler, a fellow midfielder, help the Wildcats generate offensive pressure from the outside.

Senior Rachael Reed is the leader of the defensive corps.

“She's like a coach on the field,” Pimpinella said. “She helps to keep the young players organized.”

Junior goalkeeper Stephanie Kubus has had a strong season with four shutouts to her credit.

“All season, she's been very active,” Pimpinella said. “She plays the ball with her feet out of the penalty area by design. She's more than just a shot-stopper.”

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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