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Seventh-Seeded ECC Uses Four First-Half Goals to Beat Forest Area, 5-1, in D9 Girls’ Soccer Playoffs
(Photo: ECC’s Mary Cerroni and Forest Area’s Abby Gatesman go for a ball during Monday’s District 9 Class 1A quarterfinal game at East Forest won by ECC, 5-1. Photo by Deb Arner)
That was the case for the Forest Area girls’ soccer team Monday afternoon at East Forest.
After fighting all season to earn the second seed, the Fires ended up playing a team that probably shouldn’t have been the No. 7 seed in Elk County Catholic, and the result was a 5-1 winner for the visitors in the opening round of the District 9 Class 1A playoffs.
“We had a tough schedule,” ECC head coach Ken Vogt Jr. said of feeling his team was prepared for the postseason despite being the seventh seed. “We play some good teams. Seeing it all year kind of prepares us and tells us where we need to be and what we need to work on.”
Forest Area head coach Staci Blair focused on the positives of making the playoffs and getting a home playoff game in front of a nice crowd.
“That was part of the goal at the beginning of the season to make the playoffs,” Blair said. “They knew about three weeks ago the chance to have a home playoff game was a definite possibility, so that is what we worked towards. They were excited about it, and it was great to see all the support out here today. I just wish it could have been a little different on the scoreboard.”
After the teams split opening goals in the first eight minutes with Emily Wolfe scoring first for ECC and Abby Gatesman answering for Forest Area – which co-ops with Gatesman’s home school of North Clarion – the Lady Crusaders broke things open with a pair of goals just over three minutes apart.
First, Riley Belsole scored on a breakaway in the 15th minute and then Wolfe picked up her second marker 3:14 late to make it 3-1.
“We were trying to get small passes and communicate with each other,” Wolfe said.
Watch Wolfe and Belsole discuss the victory.
Blair said communication in the first 20 minutes was an issue for her team.
“I think we just weren’t communicating,” Blair said. “We’d make a good play, but there was no communication to finish the play to make a pass to us. The transition between defense to midfield to forward really hurt us. It did take us about 20 minutes to settle down and play.”
Blair had hopes that Gatesman’s goal, which came just 51 seconds after Wolfe’s and tied the game at one would settle her team down.
“I thought that goal was really important to settle us down,” Blair said. “I thought that was going to kind of quell any nerves we had and get us back in the game. But, unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way.”
ECC made things hard on a Forest Area comeback attempt when Belsole scored her second goal of the game late in the half racing to a loose ball and then hitting to top, left corner of the net to make it 4-1 at halftime.
“I think we were kind of putting into practice what we have been working on all season – spreading the field, using our little triangle passing, getting to open space,” Vogt said. “We were able to generate some offense and get a couple of through balls and get a couple of nice shots.”
While down three goals, Blair and the Fires still believed they could come back fueled by the thought of a late comeback against Kane a couple of weeks ago that saw Forest Area score twice late and then win the game in overtime on the road.
“That was the message at halftime, and they were all confident in that,” Blair said. “A couple of weeks ago, we did that at Kane. They knew we could score and score quick. But, we just couldn’t put it together with our offense today.”
Any thought of a Forest Area comeback, though, was cut short when Chelsea Total chipped a ball off the hands of the Fires keeper just over eight minutes into the second half to make it 5-1.
ECC will take on third-seeded Redbank Valley, a 4-0 winner over Kane, in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, at DuBois High School.
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