CANONSBURG – The players on Bentworth’s girls soccer team arrived at Big Mac Stadium Monday with smiles on their faces and revenge in their hearts.
Their opponent on this day was Shady Side Academy, the same Shady Side Academy that delivered a knockout punch to the Bearcats in last year’s PIAA tournament.
Nothing would have pleased Bentworth more than ending the title chances of Shady Side Academy with one swift kick.
It never came.
Callie Davis had a hat trick and Melissa Riggins scored two goals to power Shady Side Academy to a 5-1 victory over Bentworth in the WPIAL Class A semifinals.
Shady Side Academy (16-1) will play Greensburg Central Catholic in the final at Highmark Stadium. Bentworth (18-2) will play in the third-place game against Freedom. Dates and times have not yet been determined.
“The consolation match is a tricky one,” said Bentworth head coach Tyler Hamstra. “We have to have a short memory if we want to move on.”
Bentworth opened the scoring when Paige Marshalek found Jocelyn Timlin on a breakaway down the right side. She sent a shot past goalkeeper Molly Skvorak for a 1-0 lead at 26:23. It was her 44th goal of the season for Timlin.
A little less than four minutes later, Shady Side Academy tied it when Davis coralled a pass in front of the net and sent it past Jasmine Manning.
Shady Side Academy took the lead 4:04 before halftime when Riggins headed a corner kick into the net.
“The first half, we really played well,” said Hamstra. “We wanted to limit Riggins’ space. I think she has 10 lungs. I think she is the state record holder in the 2-mile in track. She covers a lot of space.”
Riggins put the nail in the coffin when she rifled a shot into the net from 30 yards and Davis got the hat trick with just over two minutes remaining.
“They scored first and that was a little bit of a wakeup call for us,” said SSA head coach Mary Lynch. “We came out for the second half, changed a few things and played a much better second half.”
Bentworth used a strong offense and good defense to reach this spot. The Bearcats, champions of Section 2-A, defeated Mohawk, 6-1, in the first round and knocked off Serra Catholic, 3-1, in the quarterfinals.
Shady Side Academy, co-champions in Section 1, earned their spot here with a 4-0 victory over Riverside in the first round and a 4-1 win over Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in the quarterfinals.
Mars 2, Belle Vernon 0
At times, the pitch seemed tilted toward the Belle Vernon side.
That how Mars’ girls soccer team can make it feel.
The Fighting Planets dominated play throughout and got enough scoring to hand Belle Vernon a 2-0 loss in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals at Big Mac Stadium on a pleasant Monday evening.
Mars heads to Highmark Stadium for the WPIAL title match against either Plum or West Allegheny. Belle Vernon goes, too, but to compete in the third-place match. Dates and times have not yet been determined.
Mars is making its third straight trip to the finals.
“I thought we played them well and that’s what I told my team,” said Belle Vernon head coach Tracey Lovett. “We still have another game, another shot in the consolation. I just wish we would have had that one lucky goal to give us that momentum we wanted. We had a few chances.”
Mars dominated play in the first but hit two posts and botched two possible crosses that came tantalizing across the goal front. Junior Ellie Coffield, a Pitt commit, finally broke through, sending a 23-yarder into the back of the net at the 7:19 mark.
It stayed 1-0 until 23:05 left to play when Taylor Hamlett headed in a corner kick by Anna Kurpakus.
“Our energy was good. We created scoring chances but couldn’t put one away,” said Mars coach Blair Gerlach. “(Belle Vernon) defended very well. They have good athleticism and competed hard. After we got the first one, we settled down a little.”
Belle Vernon (16-4) reached this point thanks to a pair of one-goal victories: 3-2 over Ambridge in the first round and 1-0 over Oakland Catholic in the quarterfinals.
Mars (17-0-1), the top seed in the classification, with a pair of 7-0 victories. The first came against Trinity and the second against Thomas Jefferson.