Tough to take
Bad bounces cost SV girls in 2-1 defeat
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Eagle Staff Writer
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October 11, 2017
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Seneca Valley's Sammy Stevwing plays the ball in front of Pine Richland defenders Tuesday night at NexTier Stadium. The Raiders dropped a 2-1 girls soccer decision to Pine-Richland.

JACKSON TWP — Unlucky bounces are a factor in all levels of sport.

But for the Seneca Valley girls soccer team, they have become a theme this season when playing Pine-Richland.

The Rams' Alexa Burnham scored her second goal of the game in the 64th minute, lifting Pine-Richland to a 2-1 win Monday night at NexTier Stadium.

The Rams also scored a 2-1 win over the Raiders on Sept. 20.

The toughest pill to swallow Monday for the Raiders (10-4, 6-3) came in the 78th minute of play. Attempting to tie the game, SV's Mary Sinan got a shot off 15 yards from the net, but it glanced off the right post and resulted in a goal kick for the Rams.

“That ball could've bounced and went in the net,” said SV coach Mark Perry. “Instead, it bounces and goes out of bounds. We think we've had the better play in both games against them (Rams) this season, but the bounces didn't go our way.”

The victory, coupled with Butler's 2-1 win over North Allegheny, clinches the Section 1-4A title outright for the Rams (11-1, 8-0), who used a set piece to tally the deciding goal.

Caroline Swan took the corner kick from the left of the net. It found the foot of Becca Libby at the far side of the goal. The junior defender sent the ball back to the left side of the goal face where Burnham was waiting to give Pine-Richland the lead for good.

“We've been dangerous on set pieces this season,” said P-R coach Jodi Chmielewski. “Swan is consistent on the serve and she gives us a chance to score pretty much every time.”

“They always play the ball to (Libby), she's the tallest player on the field,” said Perry, “but we didn't have her marked.”

Pine-Richland scored first in the 29th minute. Emily Gagliardi took a shot 20 yards from the net. It hit the crossbar and bounced back in front of the net and Burnham was there for the rebound.

“Both of our goals came on second chances,” said Chmielewski. “We did a good job with the second ball tonight.”

The Raiders, who had several near-misses earlier in the game, found the right combination in the second half.

Awarded a free kick to the left of the net, the Raiders' Ashley Rea perfectly placed the ball where senior forward Jessica Frank could get to it. Her header sailed past Rams' goalkeeper Katharine Kelly, tying the score in the 53rd minute.

It would be the lone score of the game, however, for the Raiders. Other shots sailed wide, bounced off posts or the crossbar or were gobbled up by Kelly, who made 10 saves in the game.

“We've tried to rely on different players to score for us this season,” said Perry. “We have created a lot of chances, but we don't have a bona fide scorer.”

SV goalkeeper Bella DeFabbo stopped six shots.

With two more wins (against Shaler and North Allegheny), the Rams will finish the section slate undefeated.

“We've put ourselves in a position to do that,” said Chmielewski, “but this section is so tough, I don't think any team sets that as a goal.”

The Raiders visit Butler (9-6, 5-4) Wednesday in a game crucial toward seeding in the upcoming WPIAL playoffs.