John Bruce, Contributor
KINNIKINNICK — While the regular season wasn’t too kind towards Zane Trace in terms of wins and losses, the Pioneers’ postseason start was the complete opposite.
Zane Trace (2-13-2) had a balanced attack as four different players scored en route to a 7-1 victory over West in a Division III sectional semifinal on Tuesday.
“The girls came out really aggressive and made it a point to score early,” Zane Trace coach Katie Lawrence said. “Our passing was a million times better. They were looking up the field, took their touches more softly and we’re ready to distribute. Defensively, our communication was much better which allowed us to switch onto our marks a lot easier as well.”
It didn’t take very long for the Pioneers to strike the scoreboard first.
With the ball rolling in open field, Baily Dixon turned and kicked simultaneously, striking the ball into the left side of the netting for a 1-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
She didn’t wait too much longer to make more of an impact.
Off a pass from Gretchen Roberts, Dixon took one touch and finessed the ball into the bottom right corner to put ZT ahead 2-0.
With confidence building, the Pioneers continued to go on the attack and it was Brooklyn McCown’s time to capitalize. McCown crossed the ball into the box before it slipped right through West’s goalkeeper’s hands and ricocheted right into the back of the net for a 3-0 lead.
West (0-15) got its lone goal just minutes later when Jasmine Sargent found an opening in the middle of the field and struck. But McCown answered back just five minutes later with a beauty right over the goalie’s outstretched hands into the top of the netting for a 4-1 advantage at halftime.
“Everything about that second goal was perfect. The pass, the touch, the shot, everything,” McCown said. “It was the right moment and I had the perfect amount of space for it. I knew exactly when I saw it that I was taking that shot.”
The Pioneers continued to pour it on in the second half. Brooklyn Wade scored a pair of goals within a seven-minute time period and Hailee Dolan tallied the final goal of the night.
“We felt a level of confidence coming into this game, and this is a great win for us. We’ve been getting along really well and coming together as a team,” Wade said. “I got some shots early but wasn’t hitting the ball in the air, but in the second half I was finding the corner to score.”
Zane Trace advances to play in a Division III sectional final on Wednesday, where the Pioneers will travel for a matchup at No. 3-seeded Wheelersburg.
Westall blanks Chesapeake to begin tourney run
WILLIAMSPORT — On Monday, Westfall’s Mayson Gordon made her return to the lineup after missing the last six games of the regular season. And it didn’t take the junior captain long to make a major impact in a Division III sectional semifinal win over Chesapeake.
With 29:07 left in the first half, Gordon slashed her way through Chesapeake’s defense and crushed a shot that beat the keeper to give the Mustangs an early 1-0 lead. Less than three minutes later, she struck again. For her second goal, she ripped a shot from outside the penalty box that deflected off of a defender and found the back of the net.
You might think that would be enough, but to quote Matthew Lillard in the movie Scream, Gordon said, “But wait, there’s more.”
At the 23:02 mark of the first half, Gordon beat another defender on the left side of the box and dished a crisp pass to freshman Aubree Thomas, who rocketed the pass into the side netting for a 3-0 lead.
For the remainder of the first half, the match would be fairly even with both teams getting chances on goal, but coming up short on each attempt.
Chesapeake (1-11) made a push at the Mustangs’ defense, but the triumvirate of Jadalynn Danberry, Marisa Farmer and Lidia Flowers kept the Panthers at bay. Offensively, Gordon and Thomas, along with Alyssa Wyman and Ashli Allen continued their onslaught of the purple and silver, which would pay dividends again in the second half.
With 31:01 to play, Thomas found the side netting once again, this time from the right side of the box. Like her first shot, this one just barely tucked inside the post, something which had been a bugaboo for the freshman this season. The Mustangs had only found the back of the net eight times on the season coming into Monday, but they would not settle for just four and continued their attack on the Panthers.
It would be two senior captains that would next get into the scorebook. Ashli Allen (14:18) and Silvia Beltran (7:00) each hit the back of the net from inside the box, each on the opposite side from one another.
Between the goals, senior goalkeeper Cloe Gardner was able to get into the action as she made a sterling save on an indirect kick from inside the box to maintain the shutout. Gardner finished her night on the pitch after she reeled in three saves for the winners.
Westfall (2-12-1) advances to Wednesday’s sectional final match on the road at No. 2 seed Eastern Brown, where the Mustangs will look for the program’s second sectional title.