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Saturday marked the first day of autumn, and the cool and dreary morning was filled with intermittent periods of rain throughout an extremely physical girls' soccer match at the SMAHS soccer field between the St. Marys Area Lady Dutch and the Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders. In the end, ECC was able to replicate their performance of a week ago in the Bucktail Tournament and again defeat the Lady Dutch by a 3-0 score.
Erin Petrosky gave the Lady Crusaders a 1-0 advantage in the first half, and then Marissa Heary and Emma Daghir each scored in the second half to give Elk Catholic the 3-0 victory.
"It's a tough part of the season right now," said ECC coach Don Fabiano. "The games are piling up and it is hard to keep a focus and a high energy level, but these young (ECC) ladies played well defensively and applied a lot of pressure in their attack."
While the Lady Dutch were shut out in their second straight meeting with the Lady Crusaders, St. Marys Area coach Johanna Schmidt indicated following the game that changes that had to be made to her squad as the result of injuries also impacted the game's outcome.
"We have two [injured players] who are starters, and they're both defenders," Schmidt said. "We just changed some things in our team, so they're getting used to a new setup on the field, and that's why they let some of the goals in. I thought they put forth a good effort for most of the game, and I think that they have to continue to improve overall."
The Lady Crusaders looked strong from the start, getting in several shots early in the game. Petrosky finally put one past St. Marys Area keeper Megan Bridges with 26:12 remaining in the half, giving Elk Catholic the 1-0 lead.
While the Lady Dutch did not take as many shots as their cross-town rivals, the ones they did take appeared, for the most part, to be well-placed. Just past the midway point in the half, St. Marys' Kaitlyn Barackman sent a shot just wide of the ECC goal, and the Lady Dutch followed that up with another shot into the side of Elk's net about a minute later.
The Lady Crusaders maintained their narrow lead until just over a quarter of the way through the second half when Marissa Heary gave them a bit more breathing room with a goal to extend their lead to 2-0 with 27:04 left on the clock.
Emma Daghir added the final tally for the Lady Crusaders with 12:03 remaining in the game when she kicked a shot just out of Bridges' reach. Bridges tried lunging for the ball, but came up just short and it sailed into the back of the net, giving Elk Catholic the 3-0 advantage.
Though the Lady Dutch were unable to score in the match, Schmidt remarked that some of the positive points of the day were the efforts by captains Caley Keister and Becky Krieg and the effort put forth by the junior varsity players, who were able to get some playing time during the game.
"We have a lot of games coming up that we're going to have to work hard in, so we have to let go of the loss and move forward and do our best," Schmidt said.
The Lady Crusaders, now 4-4 on the season, outshot the Lady Dutch 16-9 throughout the entirety of the contest and are now riding a three-game winning streak into a match with the Brockway Lady Rovers on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m.
St. Marys Area, also 4-4, will be back in action this afternoon at 4 p.m. as they play host to the Ridgway Lady Elkers at the SMAHS soccer field.