The St. Marys Area Lady Dutch soccer team picked up a 4-2 win over Port Allegany on Wednesday afternoon at the SMAHS soccer field.
It was really a tale of two halves for the Lady Dutch as they played a dominant first half, outshooting Port 14-2 and taking a 3-0 advantage into halftime. The St. Marys squad seemed almost complacent at the start of the second half, though, and initially struggled against a motivated Port Allegany squad. After giving up two goals within a matter of four minutes, the Lady Dutch once again found their rhythm, padding their lead with one more goal to hold on for the win.
"The girls have had some setbacks, injuries, and some issues with playing really tough and we've been addressing those at practice, and today they finally, in my opinion, resolved those issues for most of the game, except at the beginning of the second half," said St. Marys Area coach Johanna Schmidt.
St. Marys looked strong from the get-go in the opening half, taking four shots in the first six minutes of play, two of which resulted in goals. All three of the Lady Dutch's first-half goals came within the first 12 minutes of the game.
Caley Keister got things started with a shot into the back of the net with 37:53 remaining in the opening half, and Kaitlyn Barackman almost immediately added St. Marys' second goal on what appeared to be a pass gone awry. Instead of a quick shot into the net, a light tap by Barackman sent the ball slowly rolling toward the net. Port keeper Laura Fox was unable to field it and St. Marys took a 2-0 lead with 37:22 remaining.
After a shot that went just wide of the goal about 10 minutes in, Lauren McAnany gave the Lady Dutch their third and final goal of the half as she sent a shot over the head of Fox. Fox jumped up in an attempt to hit the ball out of the way, but it was just out of her reach and sailed over her head and into the back of the net. The goal gave St. Marys a 3-0 lead with 28:25 left on the clock.
St. Marys had several more close shots during the remainder of the half, but Fox made some nice saves and was able to keep the ball out of the net. The Lady Gators did threaten near St. Marys' goal during the final two minutes of play, but were not able to get a shot off during that time.
After the half, Port came out motivated to play, testing St. Marys keeper Megan Bridges several times in the opening minutes. After several close saves by Bridges, Port's Somer Buchsenshutz was finally able to outmaneuver a St. Marys defender and send a shot past Bridges and into the back of the net, putting the Lady Gators on the board with 28 minutes remaining in the game.
Buchsenshutz almost added another goal less than three minutes later as Bridges came out to field the ball and Buchsenshutz was able to dodge her and send a shot just wide of the empty net. Lady Gator Lynae Delacour tested Bridges again about a minute later and was able to find the back of the net, putting Port within a goal of tying the game with 24:15 left on the clock.
Another miscue by St. Marys just about halfway through gave Port Allegany the opportunity to do just that, but the Lady Gators were not able to capitalize on the advantage. Bridges came out to field a ball, making the initial catch but then losing her grip on the ball and dropping it right in front of a waiting Buchsenshutz. Buchsenshutz was able to get a shot off at the empty net, but the ball hit into the outside of the net and was deflected out of the way.
Keister gave St. Marys some breathing room with 12:35 remaining as she was awarded a direct kick and sent the ball over the Port keeper's head and into the net to make the score 4-2.
"Caley Keister has a really great shot," said Schmidt.
Bridges also came up with a big save for the Lady Dutch with 10:39 remaining. Port was awarded an indirect kick right in front of the St. Marys goal after an intentional play back to Bridges. With her teammates lining the goal line in an attempt to keep the ball out, Bridges was able to dive forward and deflect the shot by Port's McKenna Johnson, preserving St. Marys' 4-2 advantage.
"Megan (Bridges) is doing really well, especially with the block on the indirect (kick)," said Schmidt.
Following the win, Schmidt also credited the strong leadership from her captains: Keister, Shannon Bridges, and Becky Krieg.
"The captains are really becoming strong leaders at this point in the season," Schmidt said.
"I'm very proud of my team, and I'm looking forward to our game Saturday," she added.
St. Marys, now 4-3 on the season, will be back in action on Saturday morning when they host the Elk County Catholic Lady Crusaders in a 10 a.m. contest at the SMAHS soccer field.