The St. Marys Area Dutch soccer team pulled off a hard-fought 1-0 win against Elk County Catholic on Thursday afternoon at the SMAHS soccer field.
The Dutch victory came almost a week after the two teams met for the first time this season in the opening round of the Elk County Boys' Soccer Tournament. Elk Catholic won that contest 2-0 and went on to win the tournament, while St. Marys finished in last place. Since that tournament though, the two teams' fortunes have changed. St. Marys has now won both of their games since then and continues to improve with each contest.
"Slowly but surely we're coming along," said St. Marys Area coach Russ Micale. "We still have a long way to go, but we're improving every day and as long as that's happening, I'm happy with our performance."
As much as the Dutchmen are coming together though, ECC is unraveling. The Crusader squad has lost both of their contests since winning the tournament and has failed to even score a goal in their last 160 minutes of play.
"I think St. Marys came to play, but I don't think we did," said ECC coach Adam Bailey. "It was obvious in the play in what happened. Congratulations to St. Marys for winning. They wanted the game more than we did, it's really that simple."
With the Crusaders struggling to communicate and play as a team, St. Marys was able to take control of the game, out-shooting ECC in both halves. Tim Mosebarger took the first shot for the Dutchmen within the first minute of play and the St. Marys squad continued to fight hard from there, leading the Crusaders with 5 shots to 4.
Both keepers were solid in the first half of the game, with the game still being scoreless at halftime.
If anything, the Dutchmen upped their momentum in the second half, continuing to play strong and keep ECC keeper Cory Huff on his toes. With just under 28 minutes remaining, Huff came out to make a save but ended up on the ground, leaving the Dutchmen to shoot at an open goal. The Crusader defense stepped up their game to prevent the easy score, but less than a minute later, with 27:10 remaining in the game, Dutchmen Clancy Wiesner was able to put a shot into the back of the net to give St. Marys the 1-0 advantage.
St. Marys had a few nice shots throughout the remainder of the contest, but the Dutchmen were unable to get another ball into the ECC goal. Dutch keeper Brett Lanzel continued to be on top of his game at the other end of the field, quickly fielding any balls that came his way to preserve the St. Marys' lead.
"The back four really did a nice job picking up their (ECC's) through balls, and Brett Lanzel did a nice job with some big saves for us. It was a good, all-around team showing," Micale said.
With the win, the Dutchmen are now 2-3 on the season and will be back in action Saturday afternoon as they host Port Allegany in a 4 p.m. match.
The Crusaders, now 3-2-1 on the season, will host DuBois Area High School on Monday at 6 p.m. at Angela Huey Memorial Field in Fox Township.