GRAHAMSVILLE – Rigid defense, fleet-footed offense and near-impenetrable goalkeeping led the No. 1 seeded Tri-Valley Lady Bears to a massive 6-2 victory over No. 4 Burke Catholic on …
GRAHAMSVILLE – Rigid defense, fleet-footed offense and near-impenetrable goalkeeping led the No. 1 seeded Tri-Valley Lady Bears to a massive 6-2 victory over No. 4 Burke Catholic on Thursday afternoon.
Burke, who moved down into Class C this year, defeated Sullivan West on Tuesday to square off in the semifinal matchup against Tri-Valley. They attempted to take control early, attacking Tri-Valley’s defense and goal keeper and keeping the ball on the offensive for most of the first half.
After sailing shots at Kaylee Poppo, taking three direct kicks in a row, and pushing the pace upfield, Burke finally found the back of the net with 15:30 remaining in the first half. A corner kick that was redirected found the net, and the Lady Bears were down 1-0.
Just three minutes and a half minutes later, a corner kick by Kendall McGregor was similarly redirected into the goal by Abbigail Mentnech to even the game up at one apiece.
Once Tri-Valley got their legs under them, they were off and running. Quite literally, as Kendall dribbled the ball and outran a defender to score her first goal with two minutes left in the first half.
Racing into the box, McGregor drew the goalie away from the net, and lofted a shot over her to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
The second half started similarly to the first, with Burke going on the offensive early and often to set the tone and force the Tri-Valley defense to work. At the 25-minute mark in the second half, Burke was gifted a penalty kick, and netted it to tie the game at two.
Not even a minute later, McGregor received a pass and sprinted to the goal, getting tripped up before the shot and getting a direct kick attempt out of it. Her shot sailed perfectly to the top of the crossbar and dipped down into the net to give Tri-Valley the 3-2 lead.
Both defenses held their ground over the next ten minutes, but Tri-Valley earned a corner kick after an unsuccessful attack, and Kendall McGregor placed the ball right in front of the goal. It was redirected in by Abbigail Mentnech for her second goal of the game, and the Bears had a two goal lead.
Tri-Valley had a two goal lead, with 15:37 to play, but that was not a safe enough lead. For good measure, Tri-Valley’s defense gained possession of the ball as soon as Burke restarted after the goal. A pass forward to McGregor gave her an opportunity to sprint at the goal and fire off a shot. It hit and McGregor’s hat trick was complete.
Scoring thrice and assisting on two additional goals, McGregor left her stamp all over the game, and needed just under 65 minutes to do it.
Trailing 5-2, Burke’s starting goalie left the game with an injury, and with nine minutes left, Riley Kelly netted her first goal of the game and push the score to 6-2, the exact score of the first matchup between these two teams this year in Burke.
Kaylee Poppo recorded 11 saves in the win, and Brooke Delaney had two assists.
For the first time in years, Tri-Valley will be playing for the Section IX Championship in Class C. They will square off against Millbrook this afternoon at 5 p.m. at Middletown High School.
Coach Kayla Connelly was thrilled with her team’s performance in the win. “They worked very hard today. It was the first time making sectionals in a long time, so getting the top seed and a playoff win is huge.”
Millbrook beat Seward 3-1 on Thursday, and have been a Class C powerhouse, allowing just 6 goals all season and losing two games, both to Mount Academy.
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