Clarion Area Bobcats Girls Soccer Advance To District 9 Playoffs With 5-2 Win Over Franklin (Posted 10/20/10)
(Article and images by Matt Lerch)
The Clarion Area Bobcats Girls Soccer squad finished their regular season with a 7-5 record, by defeating Franklin 5-2 at their home field in Clarion, on Thursday (October 22nd). Their record advances the Bobcats to the District 9 playoffs with a match against Curwensville on Monday (October 26th).
On a balmy fall evening with temperatures in the high 60s, the Bobcats found themselves with two players available on the bench with the return of Ruby Smith to the rotation. Star players left wing Joyce Kim and midfielder Anna Gribik are still injured and are unable to play. But that didn’t stop the Bobcats from coming out of the gates with a show of force.
With the Franklin defense still finding their footing on the muddy and bumpy Bobcat field, right forward Evelyn Lerch chased down a ball dumped into the right corner, almost reaching the baseline and crossed a bullet into the crease for an awaiting striker, Alex Leadbetter. Leadbetter placed the ball into the left side of the goal as a grounder, to start the scoring in the first two minutes of play.
Three minutes later, left wing Lexi Coull, from center field, nailed the ball through the midfielders into the center, where Leadbetter picked up the bouncing ball and literally split the defense with acceleration taking the ball in to score, in the same spot as her previous goal.
Franklin soon answered with some flash from their offense. The ball was popped over the Bobcat defense and the Franklin center striker, with a head of steam, was able to come in for a solo score making the game 2-1, Clarion going into halftime.
Assistant Coach Stephanie Lias mixed up the line up and temporarily put Lerch into goalie position and gave goaltender Chesney Boggess a break after she made six saves on goal in the first half. Lerch made two saves and on the second save, kicked the ball over midfield and with a bounce found forward Maddie Watterson all alone. Watterson advanced the ball to the goal and with two defenders in pursuit, was stopped at the last second before pulling the trigger. Eventually the Franklin offense found a cross to pass an effective ball past Lerch to make it a 2-2 contest.
As they say, the offense sells the tickets but the defense wins the games. Senior Captain Jenna Miller anchored the defense again making sure the defense was wound so tight that it wouldn’t break. Miller time and time again made saves keeping the goalie protected. Right defender Robyn Stahlman, as usual, was stalwart in her play, keeping the ball out of the Clarion side of the field. Midfielders Felicia White, Allison Acey, Hannah Hazlett and Abi Frederick assisted the defense when called upon.
The Bobcats offense knew that they had to come to life and they didn’t disappoint the spectators. Coull advanced the ball into the midfield and found Senior Captain Emily Grabiak, who sped through the goalie box and shot wide right for the go ahead goal making it 3-2 Clarion.
Grabiak wasn’t done yet. Leadbetter intercepted a clearing ball by Franklin’s defense and found Coull in the middle of the field. It was déjà vu all over again, as she found Grabiak who scored in the same spot as her previous goal.
The last goal was a combination pass, with Coull finding Senior Captain Ava Cherico in the right corner and with Lerch back in the offense deflected the ball past the goalie for a 5-2 win. Goaltender Boggess made six more saves in the second half.
The Bobcats advance to the first round of District 9 playoffs and will take on the Curwensville Golden Tide on Monday October 26th, at an undetermined time and location at the writing of this article.
(Thanks to Matt Lerch for this article and images. Way to go, Lady Cats!!!! Go Get ‘Em, in the District Playoffs!!!!)