Lady Foxes Bow Out of Playoffs

Doug Gulasy | Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, TRIB-LIVE

A potential berth in the WPIAL semifinals provided plenty of motivation for Penn-Trafford. But on the slim chance the Warriors needed any more, they could lean on the revenge angle as well, a rematch with the team that perhaps cost them the postseason’s No. 1 seed.

The Warriors might not have been the top team when the postseason began, but they kept their bid alive to be on top next week at Highmark Stadium.

Lauren Stovar scored a pair of timely first-half goals, and No. 2 Penn-Trafford survived a furious late rally to beat No. 7 Fox Chapel, 3-2, in a WPIAL Class AAAA girls soccer quarterfinal Thursday night at Norwin.

“We haven’t been here since our freshman year, so it’s great to come back,” Stovar said. “(We’re) looking to go to the finals, so I hope we can make it.”

Penn-Trafford (15-3-1) will play No. 11 Upper St. Clair, an upset winner over Peters Township, in the semifinals on Monday at a time and site to be determined. It’s the Warriors’ first semifinal appearance since 2014 as they chase their first championship since 2003.

They also kept alive the potential for a third meeting with arch-rival Norwin in the WPIAL finals; the fourth-seeded Knights beat Kiski Area in a quarterfinal game on the opposite side of the bracket.

Penn-Trafford’s student section started a not-so-subtle “This is our house” chant as time wound down in their rival’s stadium Thursday night; Penn-Trafford went 1-0-1 against Norwin this season.

But Penn-Trafford first had to beat Fox Chapel, which came away with a 2-1 overtime win when the teams played a nonsection game at the end of the regular season.

“The motivation and the drive was definitely there in the playoffs after you lose a game at the end of the regular season,” Penn-Trafford coach Jackie Bartko said. “We talked about how we felt at the end of that game and how we weren’t going to let that happen tonight.”

That first game ended Penn-Trafford’s 13-game unbeaten streak and perhaps cost the Warriors the No. 1 seed.

“We just wanted revenge,” Stovar said. “I don’t think they should have won the other game, and we got them back here. We just wanted to beat them, prove we were the better team.

When Fox Chapel took a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute of the opening half, it looked as though the Foxes (13-6-1) might be primed for another victory and their third consecutive WPIAL semifinal appearance.

A sequence that began with Sarah Sinnott’s shot striking the post ended with Maura Curry converting a cross from Blair Echnat to give Fox Chapel the advantage.

“The girls left everything on the field,” Fox Chapel coach Peter Torres said. “You can’t ask for anything more, and I’m proud of them.”

Penn-Trafford made that lead disappear just 22 seconds later, with Stovar taking a cross from Emma Rain and putting it past Foxes goalkeeper Kate Feczko. It was a mirror of the first game, when Fox Chapel scored a quick equalizer after Penn-Trafford’s 1-0 lead.

“That happens a lot to us on the reverse end, so it was nice to finally have that happen for us,” Bartko said.

Stovar added her second goal just 1:01 before halftime on an assist from Hannah Nguyen. Kiley Dugan made it 3-1 just under 10 minutes into the second half. Feczko made a kick save on Dugan’s initial shot, but the rebound came right back to Dugan, and she buried it under the crossbar for the two-goal lead.

“That team is so talented,” Torres said. “They move the ball so well, they have a lot of individual skill, they’re very deceptive with their moves, and it was really affecting us in the first half significantly. We tried to talk about preaching patience and not buying everything they’re selling, and we did a little bit better in the second half, but that (Dugan) goal was huge.”

Katie Livingston cut the Penn-Trafford lead to one with just under seven minutes remaining, heading home a Claudia DeMartino corner kick at the far post, but Fox Chapel couldn’t score the equalizer before time ran out. Megan Giesey made 10 saves for Penn-Trafford, including a pair of key stops in the final 10 minutes.

“We just want to make it to the finals so bad,” Stovar said. “We really think we can get a WPIAL title this year, and we have a lot of hope. It would just be so exciting to get there and win, finally, our senior year.”