Hair-raising experience

Gaels give late jolt after Storm fails to scare up winning goal

Gaels give late jolt after Storm fails to scare up winning goal

October 18, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

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It wasn't how Mercersburg Academy's girls soccer team started against St. Maria Goretti in Wednesday's match, but how the Blue Storm finished that led to the 1-1 tie.

Or rather, it was how Mercersburg failed to finish.

The Blue Storm finished with a 23-9 edge in shots and a 10-1 edge in corner kicks, but in the end, Sarah Spierenburg's goal in the 77th minute helped the Gaels get even in the only stat that matters - the final score.

"We spent 75 of the 80 minutes (of regulation) in their end," Mercersburg coach Heather Reichhart said. "We just have to finish better."


Mercersburg (5-3-5) dominated play in the first half, taking 12 shots to three for Goretti (5-8-2). Lauren Dobish came within inches of goals in the ninth and 37th minutes, but all she got for her attempts was the sound of the ball cracking off the right post each time. The first time, Tatiana Duchak had a golden opportunity to score on the rebound, but missed left.

"That's soccer," Goretti coach Dan Durski said. "If the goal was an inch bigger on each side, it'd be a different score."

In the 30th minute, Duchak went down holding her knee after battling with a Goretti defender for possession in the right corner. Duchak, who has seven goals and nine assists this season, was helped to the bench and did not return.

The two sides played a more even second half - each team executed several dangerous crosses in the first 20 minutes, though none of them led to scores.

Finally, in the 68th minute, Mercersburg's Jennifer Dillon got loose up the left seam and beat charging Gaels goalkeeper Andrea Buckner with a chip shot for a 1-0 lead.

"We'd been creating some nice opportunities for ourselves," Reichhart said. "We were doing some nice passing sequences, and eventually one of them worked."

With five minutes left, Reichhart moved Dillon to the back to try to protect the lead, while Durski moved Colleen Costello into the attack. Two minutes later, a defensive marking error left Costello free up the right side.

Costello partially whiffed on her shot attempt, but Blue Storm keeper Riley Renner mishandled the shot, which then bounced off the left post and out to a charging Spierenburg, who buried the easy opportunity.

"When (Mercersburg) scored, I pushed the girls up into a more offensive formation," Durski said. "Sometimes it doesn't work, but this time it paid off."

Each team had opportunities in the 10-minute overtime.

In the fifth minute, several players battled to control a Mercersburg cross near the left post before Goretti cleared it away.

In the seventh, a Goretti cross went right across the open goal but no Gael could get to it in time.

In the eighth, Goretti's Erica DiMercurio hit a beautiful 20-yard free kick just over the Blue Storm's wall, but the shot curled right to Renner.

"When we played the overtime period, my girls got their second or third wind," Durski said. "They had momentum and adrenaline on their side following the goal. I'm proud of the way the girls played today. They gave 100-percent effort and didn't back off."

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