South Allegheny clinches section title despite sloppy play
It would have been perfect if South Allegheny had clinched the school's first section title in girls soccer with an artistic display worthy of the description “masterpiece.”
In reality, the Gladiators' 5-0 victory over Beth-Center, which gave them the outright Section 2-A championship, was filled with poor passing and missed scoring opportunities in a game they dominated from start to finish.
“The field played into it, and it was a pretty bad field, but it really comes down to not finishing, and some days they're like that,” South Allegheny coach Jesse MacPherson said. “Some days they finish, some days they don't.”
South Allegheny (13-0-0, 10-0-0) pressed the attack throughout the first half and pushed quality shots at Beth-Center senior goalkeeper Taylor Meckley. But, to her credit, she turned every attempt aside until late in the half. That was when South Allegheny freshman Amber Brownfield set up senior Shannon Wygonik for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
It might also be the last goal Wygonik scores for a while. She left the field at the intermission with a wrist injury and was taken to a hospital for examination. The preliminary diagnosis was a possible break.
Though players have been known to play with casts, it is generally frowned upon because of the amount of contact and the damage that could be inflicted upon an opponent. That would mean, if Wygonik — one of the team's leading scorers — could play, she would have to do so without a hard cast and would have to be medically cleared.
“If she's not able to play that would be huge,” MacPherson said. “I expect she probably will be back (for the playoffs), but she's one of our two main scorers, so it would be tough if she couldn't come back. It was nice winning our first section title and to win it outright, but we hope that Shannon can come back.”
Without Wygonik going forward, the onus of finishing would rest on the shoulders of Brownfield, who is among the WPIAL's top finishers with 18 goals. She picked up her 18th in the second half against Beth-Center when she spun left around sophomore defender Chelsea Snyder, dribbled in alone and fired off a shot that beat Meckley high to the far left post for a 2-0 lead.
“I tried that move so many times and I couldn't get away with it,” Brownfield said. “When I finally did, I scored.”
Brownfield also added her second assist of the game on midfielder Melanie Girovski's goal with 17 seconds remaining in regulation. But despite clinching the school's first section title, there was no celebration on the field as the players instead readied themselves for a tougher test Tuesday against Serra Catholic. The Eagles will certainly be a more desperate foe after they were eliminated from WPIAL playoff contention after their loss to Charleroi on Monday.
“Luckily we have three games that should be tougher going forward,” MacPherson said.
“They know that if they don't come out and play better, they're not going to win them.”
Still, though it may have been a lacking performance as compared to some other outings, South Allegheny retains quite a bit of pride in its accomplishment.
“It really means a lot,” Brownfield said.
“I didn't think it would be like this.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 ext. 1977.