Athens falls to Danville, 6-1
LOYALSOCK, TWP. - Coming into the game, Athens knew they would have to play perfect to hang with Danville.
And when they went up 1-0 early in the match, it looked like the Wildcats were doing just that.
But one the Lady Ironmen got on a roll they couldn't be stopped, beating Athens 6-1 in the District IV, Class AA semi-finals Wednesday.
"All 11 girls of theirs are very good," Athens' coach Duane Hafer said about Danville. The Lady Ironmen were coming off a 2-0 win over Warrior Run, who were the Class A state champs last season. "That (Siobhan Bross) controlled the midfield."
He thought his team had a chance because of Danville's inconsistent play this year.
"You look at the paper, they beat somebody up then next game they're getting beat," Hafer remarked. "But this is districts, they're up for every game."
While Danville controlled possession early they appeared to struggle with the slick turf at Loyalsock. Several of their passes rolled out of bounds or simply missed their mark.
And anything that got into the final Athens third the Wildcat defense was able to keep off goal and clear.
Then just over 10 minutes into the game a Danville goal kick found the football of Athens' defender Mackenzie Hafer. She quickly passed it up front to Mackenzie Warner. Warner beat the defender, then buried her shot into the right side of the Danville net to put Athens up 1-0.
"I thought for sure good were going to make it a good game here today," Hafer said about the strong start. "That's what I wanted to do. I'm thinking 1-0 'good, we can play here.'"
While the goal got the Wildcats fired up it also woke up Danville.
"They weren't happy down there," Hafer said about the Lady Ironmen side.
The Lady Ironmen then put the pressure on Athens' defense even more and finally broke through at 15:06 as Quinn Albertson punched one in the Wildcat goal off a corner kick to knot the game up at 1-all.
Then at 10:12 Danville took the lead as Kyle Gorki took a long shot out past the penalty box and found the goal to put her team up 2-1.
It looked like the Wildcats might be able to hold on until halftime but under a minute left Bross dribbled through the Athens defense down the left side of the penalty box and fired a shot past Athens keeper Morgan Westbrook.
The goal, scored with 29.4 seconds to go before the break, brought back memories of the Wildcats game this season against Montoursville. In both games late first half goals doused the Athens spirits heading into the break.
"That goal hurt us," Hafer remarked. "You could just see our girls going down."
As the second half got under way Athens found some life early as their top striker Kirsten Colegrove just missed on a scoring opportunity. Danville goalie Hanna Harris saved the ball but it bounced roughly eight yards off her chest but there was no Athens player there to capitalize on it.
Danville came back and scored off another corner. Shelby Freedman headed the ball towards the net, it bounced off an Athens defender and into the goal to put the Lady Ironmen up 4-1 with 32:12 left to play.
Colegrove tried to strike back for the Wildcats a couple minutes later but was foiled once again by Harris.
Danville struck again at 17:34 as Kiersten Zerbe put one in to make it 5-1, then added another one with 2:14 left to play for the 6-1 final.
"They still came out and fought hard in the second half," Hafer said about his team. "They played a real good game here, I was really pleased with how they played here. I think my defense played well."
This is the type of game that make the Wildcat program better.
"We learned a lot this game," Hafer said. "If you don't learn you did truly learn. I felt very fortunate watching it, watching it, yep, this is what we have to work on for next year."
Danville's strong midfield play allowed them to out shoot Athens 20-4 and get an edge in corner kicks 7-0.
They also did a good job defending Colegrove, who only had three shots on goal.
"(Erin Raup) had her marked all day," Hafer said. "We were trying to move her around and (Raup) would go right with her."
Despite the loss Hafer couldn't complain about his team's 19-2 season.
"Very good season," he said. "The girls just kept plugging away and kept working. I have to admit it was the girls working. I can tell them 'this is what you have to do' but they have to go out and execute and they did it."
The Wildcats return all but four players next season but Hafer knows he's going to miss those four.
"I can't ask any more from those four seniors," he said. "They led this team quite well."
But going forward his freshman keeper Westbrook made several acrobatic saves in the second half en route to a 12 save day.
"She made some tremendous saves and I think its just going to be valuable experience for her down the road," Hafer remarked. "I think she did a real good job."