BY VINCE COTCHEN
Conemaugh Township matched Sewickley Academy almost shot for shot on Tuesday evening, but was unable to take advantage of two early Panthers goals that were nullified, and fell 1-0 in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.
After an initially long battle for possession at midfield, Sewickley gained the offensive advantage and looked as though it was going to quickly take the lead as forward Mackenzie Coles appeared to score off of a long kick by Sophia Werner that was mishandled by Township goal keeper Jenna Telenko.
However, the goal was disallowed because of an offsides penalty.
“I learned that we weren’t going to give up in spite of the goals being called back,” Sewickley coach Jessica Peluso said. “We kept pushing toward the net and playing hard.”.
Despite a very strong push by the Indians offense late in the first half, Township was unable to manufacture any solid scoring opportunities for its forwards. Sewickley’s Werner worked her way back to the net later in the half, and appeared to score on an open breakaway shot. But again, the goal was called back by an offsides call.
“I told them after the game that it was time to move on, that there’s no point in worrying about what happened this game, that now we have to focus on our next game, our next opponent,” Peluso said
The Panthers finally got one that counted with 10:49 left in the second half, this time on an unassisted breakaway goal by forward Melina George. The goal garnered jeers from some fans in the crowd, as it appeared as though Sewickley was offsides again.
“I didn’t see it. It’s hard to call those ones because they’re so close,” Township coach Fred Galiote said.
George nearly scored again just 1:30 later as she dribbled past two defenders and blasted a shot that went just right of the net.
“I thought we came out a little slow, but near the end of the game I felt like we were able to maintain possession and continue to make opportunities, and that’s what we’re going to work on going forward,” Peluso said.
Sewickley’s win advances it to Round 2 of the playoffs, while Conemaugh Township’s season ends with an impressive 19-3 record.
“I am just unbelievably proud of the Lady Indians and everyone involved with the team this year,” Galiote said.
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