After 110 minutes of soccer and five rounds of penalty kicks weren’t enough to decide last Monday’s District 9 Class A girls soccer playoff game between Redbank Valley and visiting Port Allegany, midfielder Patty Todd and goalkeeper Cailey Barnett finally ended the suspense.
Todd, a senior from Smethport, scored on her kick to put the sixth-seeded Lady Gators up 4-3 in the penalty round, sending the ball skittering low and left past the diving Bulldog keeper. Barnett, a Port junior, applauded the successful shot, took up her position between the posts, and slapped away RV’s tying attempt to secure a 2-1 shootout win and a D-9 semifinal berth for Port United.
“The girls were extremely excited,” coach Tony Edgell said.
The game was scoreless deep into the first half, until RV senior Brooke Eberle cleaned up a loose ball right in front of the Gator net to give the home team a 1-0 lead with little more than a minute left before the break.
During his halftime talk, Edgell made a change in the lineup, moving Barnett back to forward and putting Cierra Lannager in net.
“We weren’t generating any offense whatsoever. We needed something, we were already down. So really, what did we have to lose? She gives us energy,” he said. “Cierra is solid in the goal; Cailey is just a little bit better, but Cailey is also a better striker.”
Asked for his halftime message to the team, he replied, “Just play hard. I asked the girls, ‘Are they a better team than you are?’ They said no. I said, ‘Then you go out and play like you’re the better team.’ And they did.”
With Barnett up front and the Gators pressing home the attack, a Bulldog foul gave Rylie Lawton a free kick from 35 yards away, and the Port senior calmly put it home for her seventh goal of the season to knot the score early in the second half.
“I just looked at her and said, ‘Put it on net,’ and she put it in,” Edgell said. “Very similar to last year’s Ridgway game where we won.”
Port had several chances to score during regulation and overtime, but couldn’t convert. Bree Garzel, Kristen Dunn and Barnett netted penalties for Port in the first round, but Redbank matched them with three shootout goals of their own, setting the stage for Todd’s kick and Barnett’s dramatic game-clinching stop.
“(Assistant coach Justin Osani) and I were talking about who we were going to have as our PK kickers. He said, ‘It’s not going to go to that.’ I said, ‘Humor me.’ So we made our decision, and then when the first five were picked and we sent them out I said, ‘Who’s going to be our second five?’ ‘We’re not going to go to that,’ he said. I said, ‘Humor me’,” Edgell recalled with a chuckle.
“Patty was going to be one of the choices in the first five, but I said, ‘Those are good kickers out there. She’s a good kicker too, so we’ll put her first because it’s golden goal after the first five.’”
The win sent Port into Thursday’s semifinal at Brockway against second-seeded Ridgway. The two teams split the regular-season series, with each squad winning 2-1 on its home field. This time, the Elkers’ Amanda Williams scored once in each half and Lindsay Kocjancic turned away the Gators to secure a 2-0 win, sending the defending D-9 Class A champs back to the final.
“They are a good team. I told Greg (Maddalena, the Ridgway coach) I hope he beats Brockway, if ECC doesn’t first,” Edgell said before the outcome of the other semifinal was known.
While the Elkers and Rovers were slated to meet on Tuesday evening in a rematch of last year’s Class A final, the Port United girls complete their 2018 campaign at 8-10 (3-3 UAVSL North) following their sixth consecutive trip to the playoffs.
“I was very pleased with how the girls did together,” Edgell said. “I was disappointed we didn’t get to the finals, but there is always next year.”