High School Sports

PIAA Girls' Soccer: Seneca Valley frustrates State College in opener

MILL HALL — It’s hard to have a chance to win when you hardly get any shots.

It’s harder still when you are playing from behind nearly the whole game.

Seneca Valley scored just over six minutes into the game and it’s defense was all but impenetrable to blank State College 2-0 Tuesday night at Central Mountain’s Don Malinak Stadium in the PIAA Class AAA first round.

“We gave it our all and played like we know how to play,” junior forward Victoria Crawford said. “It just didn’t turn out as we wanted it to.”

Alex Bilka and Morgan Williams scored the Raiders’ goals as they advanced to Saturday’s quarterfinals to meet Peters Township, a 3-2 winner over Bethel Park. It will be a rematch of last weekend’s District 7 championship game.

Seneca Valley was tough to crack, holding the ball for long methodical possessions while also thwarting State college attempts to advance deep into the offensive end.

The Lady Little Lions (15-6-1) were outshot 18-8, including 10-2 in the first half.

“It was very frustrating,” Crawford said. “We tried to stay positive on the field and find a way around it and still play like the team we are.”

Bilka pounced on a rebound for her score to quickly start the scoring.

Williams had the ball on the doorstep, booting a shot from six yards out right at keeper Sarah Hartman. Hartman blocked the attempt for one of her eight saves, but had no chance to control the ball, and Bilka easily put the ball into the open net 6:14 into the game. They were Seneca Valley’s first two shots of the game.

“I don’t think we were expecting to be down, I think that was probably the issue,” Lady Little Lions coach Kevin Morooney said. “We’ve been down this season, although we haven’t been down and come back, but the nature of the first goal was a little deflating. We haven’t let in goals like that this year.”

As quickly as the Raiders got on the board to start the first half, they needed even less time to start the second. Just 1:51 after intermission, Williams controlled the ball at the top of the penalty box when she launched a rocket that Hartman had no chance to stop that sailed in just under the crossbar.

“The girls came out in the second half and did what we wanted them to do,” Raiders coach Dave Sylvester said. “I think that’s why we got it so quick — we tried to stretch their girls in the back a little bit. We knew they were marking Morgan tight and we were getting a a little bunched, so we stretched them out which allowed her to get a little room.”

The Lady Little Lions had their best chances to get on the board in the final 15 minutes.

The first had Crawford break a little early and drawing an offsides call as she tried to get behind the Raider defense, and the second came with seven minutes left as Crawford drove in from the right but fired it right at keeper Jessica Neill.

“I was really confident in my shot,” Crawford said. “I was like, ‘Please go in, please go in.’”

It was the Lady Little Lions’ first shot on goal all night.

The second — and last — shot on goal came three minutes later when Haley Crawford crossed the ball to the middle and Robin Derr got a foot on the ball but not with much force as it bounced right to Neill.

“They played very compact and made sure nothing got past them,” Crawford said. “It was hard to get around them. We had a few runs and that was better than nothing.”