Lady Leps knock off South Fayette, 1-0

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Belle Vernon Area girls' soccer team knew they were in for a low-scoring affair going into the WPIAL Class AA first-round playoff matchup with the South Fayette Lady Lions.

The teams met earlier this season at South Fayette's season-opening tournament. A game the Lady Leps won 1-0.

On Saturday, BVA dominated the action, but were only able to come away with a single goal again to win, 1-0.

The Lady Leps' goal came off of the head of sophomore Meghan Lovett with just over 17 minutes left to play.

“They are a good defensive team, they like to play defensive and be patient,” BVA coach Paul Sasko said. “We have seen it before. Their entire game plan is to play strong defense, stay patient and then quick strike. But thankfully we were able to push one through.”

The seventh-seeded Lady Leps (14-4-1) controlled the tempo of the game from the very beginning, using short, precise passing to routinely bring the ball in deep only to narrowly miss scoring. BVA had eight corner kick opportunities in the first half alone, but only four of their ten shots found the net.

Kent State commit Hayden Pascoe led the Lady Leps with four shots in the first half, but was unable to put one in the back of the net.

“(Scoring only one goal) was a little frustrating, but I knew that would happen against them,” Sasko said. “If you keep it up long enough hopefully something goes in. I think Hayden hit the crossbar three times.”

In the 63rd minute, the Lady Leps finally converted an opportunity.

Marissa Zetty crossed the ball from the left sideline to about 10 yards out, right to Lovett who out jumped a defender to head the ball through the outstretched arms of Lady Lions goalkeeper Natalie Caraway.

The 10th-seed, South Fayette (10-8-1) was content with counterattacking, continually trying long passes to their forwards from the defensive zone. It rarely worked, but when it did Ashly Gagliardi was there. She recorded five saves for the shutout.

Next up for the Lady Leps is No. 2-seed, undefeated Central Valley (16-0-0).

“Central Valley is a very good team,” Sasko said. “We have played them in the playoffs the past two seasons. We beat them last year and they beat us two years ago, so we are pretty familiar with them. They are a top team, so we are going to have to play a solid game. Hopefully we will get some of those shots that hit the crossbar to go in.”

Class A Girls

Springdale 2,Charleroi Area 0

Casey Hughes and Emma Whelan scored goals for Springdale, as the ninth-seeded Lady Dynamos notched a first-round, 2-0, shutout over an injury-ravaged Charleroi Area squad in WPIAL Class A girls' soccer playoff action at James Weir Stadium Saturday in Belle Vernon.

Springdale (12-6-0, 8-4-0) dominated possession and peppered Charleroi goalkeeper Sydney Toth with shots in an otherwise sloppy and physical game.

The eighth seeded Lady Cougars (12-3-2, 10-1-1) – missing four starters due to injury – were never able to find their rhythm offensively. Of Charleroi's seven shots, only three were on net, compared to Springdale putting 12 of their 15 shots on goal. Toth made 10 saves and Marissa Johnson played a strong defensive game for the Lady Cougars.

“I think the kids gave the best they had to give today,” Charleroi coach Jim Rue said. “A couple fundamental errors on the first goal, but I think they gave the best we had. We have several injuries – but I take nothing away from our opponent, I watched their last section game and I knew this was going to be a difficult game.”

In the 18th-minute Hughes collected a low crossing pass from Brittany Smajda that found its way through several Lady Cougar defenders and inside the right post to give the Lady Dynamos a 1-0 lead that they would take into halftime.

Toth had difficulty handling a shot in the wet conditions in the 56th-minute and Whelan buried the rebound, putting the game out of reach for Cougars.

“We had a lot of young kids get good experience today,” Rue said. “I'm proud of our season and proud of the way we played. I tip my cap to Springdale, wish them good luck and we look forward to next year.”

Donnie Tasser is a freelance writer.

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