The shot count may have been lopsided, and the State College girls’ soccer team may have held possession for most of the night, but that doesn’t mean it was a night free of nail-biting.
For the second time in eight days, the Lady Little Lions posted a huge disparity in shots against Central Mountain, but also for the second time walked away with a slight 1-0 victory.
This time, however, was in the District 6 Class AAA semifinals Tuesday night at Memorial Field, and sends State College to the district championship game for the 15th straight season.
“It was a tense game for both teams,” Lady Little Lion coach Kevin Morooney said. “(The Lady Wildcats) got up for it, they had a really good game plan and they stuck to it.”
State College (14-5) will meet Hollidaysburg in the title match on Thursday night at Altoona’s Mansion Park. The Lady Tigers beat Altoona 2-0 in the other semifinal.
Robin Derr was the only player all game to find the net at Memorial Field, powering in a shot 7:02 into the second half.
The first half had been a back-and-forth battle, although only State College was getting off the shots. But the Lady Little Lions stepped up the pressure after intermission and finally solved Wildcat keeper Bryann Hilty, who made 12 saves.
“It was the fourth out of six possessions in the final third (of the field),” Morooney said. “The girls knocked it around and found Robin on the other side of the frame. She fought off two defenders and made a really athletic, physical goal, but it was a team effort to get to that opportunity that was before us. Then it took Robin to be a bit of a beast.”
When the teams met on Oct. 15 in Mill Hall, the Lady Little Lions also earned the 1-0 shutout and dominated in shots 17-0.
On Tuesday night, the shot disparity was 25-4, and it was as much the defense’s credit at keeping the Lady Wildcat shot count low as it was the offense’s credit for racking up the attempts.
“The back line and the holding midfielder did a fabulous job of keeping the structure we had to keep against what they were trying to do,” Morooney said. “We had to be super disciplined to choke it off. They didn’t get a lot of shots on goal, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t nerve-wracking as a coach. But the girls looked super calm.”
Caitlyn Fosnacht made one save for the State College shutout.
State College will be seeking its sixth straight district crown and 14th overall. Thursday’s winner will then advance to a play-in game next week, for a spot in the PIAA tournament, against a team from either District 9 or 10.