Lady Tide down ECC, 4-0|
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
By Rich Murawski Assistant Sports Editor
CURWENSVILLE - Healthy for the first time all season, the Curwensville girls soccer team put its optimal lineup on the pitch Tuesday at Riverside Stadium against Elk County Catholic in the quarterfinals of the District 9 Class A playoffs.
The result was a convincing, 4-0, win keyed by a pair of first-half goals off the foot of Tiara Bumbarger.
Bumbarger, who had been used all over the field to cover for injuries much of the season, didn't disappoint in her first extended action up top for the Lady Tide.
She gave Curwensville the lead just 9:08 into the game and added to it with a near identical shot a little over nine minutes later.
"We've been hurt on defense, so we needed to play Tiara back on defense because she is a talented player," Curwensville head coach Gary Thorp said. "Today, we had everybody healthy enough that be could put a strong defense on the field and allow her to go up front.
"She is one of the scoring leaders. As a matter of fact, all three (Bumbarger, Krista Kolesar and Mackenzie Winebold) that were up front have the same amount of goals. When you have all three up there it's tough to key on one."
Bumbarger got loose in the Lady Crusader goal box after battling an ECC defender for a 50-50 ball and sent a quick, hard shot toward the net that surprised keeper Hannah Onink.
The second Bumbarger goal was practically a carbon copy of the first as the junior forward corralled a loose ball, spiraled around and fired from just outside the 6.
"I sent it over top right over her hands just below the bar," Bumbarger said. "I was surprised (I got to play up top). I just needed to get it going and let it all fly."
Bumbarger's game against ECC was reminiscent of last season's playoff performances against Brookville and Avonworth where she tallied every Lady Tide goal in both wins.
Her playoff secret?
"My mother bribes me with food," she said, "like going to a good restaurant. I'm hoping we go to the Central. I just need some chicken fingers."
Bumbarger wasn't the only one finding the back of the net for the Lady Tide in this one, however, as Kolesar and Cheyenne Geisler added second-half scores in a final 40 minutes dominated by the hosts.
After a very even first half that saw the Lady Tide hold a 4-3 advantage in shots, Curwensville clamped down on defense, limiting the Lady Crusaders to just one in the second half.
"Our midfield started playing a little but more defensively against their midfield and that eliminated them from taking wide-open shots," Thorp said. "So they had to pass it to the wings and that just sets our defense right up with what we want.
"We have Heather (Thorp) free to roam around in the back as a sweeper. And with Rachel (Hoover) and her experience as a four-year letterwinner, she is solid and tough to get around. Then you try the other side with Cheyenne and she's another solid player with good ball handling skills. ECC had a rough time getting a good, clear shot, especially in the second half.
"They played well defensively against us," Elk County Catholic head coach Don Fabiano said. "They cut down our passing game and we weren't able to penetrate their defense very much."
ECC wasn't without opportunities, however, as it very nearly tied the game up moments after Bumbarger's first goal and almost cut into the two-goal deficit as well.
Emma Daghir got behind Lady Tide keeper Tiffany Carter, beating her to a loose ball and firing a shot at an open net, but the ball rung off the crossbar and Carter scrambled to cover it up before another Crusader could get another crack at it.
Then about midway through the half, Julia Sweeney one-timed a shot toward the near post off a crossing pass, but her kick was just high, sailing inches over the crossbar.
"We had a couple of huge opportunities in the first half, and we didn't cash in," Fabiano said. "And that's how it's gone. We've been playing great defense all year, but having trouble finishing. We've been working very hard on that and had started scoring goals toward the end of the season. But that didn't happen today for us."
That was ECC's last dangerous opportunity as the Lady Tide clamped down on defense, while still attacking when the chance presented itself.
In the 62nd minute, winger Taylor Goodman sent the ball from the left wing to the top of the box where Kolesar beat Onink to it. A couple quick touches and Kolesar was behind the defense and easily hit the open net to up the advantage to 3-0.
A little over seven minutes later, Bumbarger was at it again.
But this time she sent a picture-perfect cross pass to Geisler, who blasted it home for a 4-0 lead.
"It was Tiara's night," Thorp said. "She had some nice passes on the outside and she scored. I'm real proud of her."
Kolesar led the team with four shots, while Winebold had three and Bumbarger notched two as the trio combined for 60 percent of the Lady Tide's shots.
"We wanted to get all three of them up there all season, but haven't had that luxury," Thorp said. "This is the first game we've had that luxury. We performed well. ECC had to play one-on-one defensively. And with the talent of those three, it created a lot of goal-scoring opportunities."
Bumbarger also had the game-winner against the Lady Crusader in a regular season game earlier this month. That contest ended 2-1 in Curwensville's favor and saw the Lady Tide manage just nine shots.
"ECC is a well-coached team and a well-disciplined team," Thorp said. "We knew we had to be on top of our game to beat them.
"The practices have been going real well, and the team unity is very good with this group. When you have that I think they perform better with each other, not trying to outdo one another, but complementing each other. That makes this team a real special team."
Curwensville is back in action in a District 9 Class A semifinal at a date, site and time to be determined. The Lady Tide's opponent is Ridgway, which topped Clarion, 6-1, on Tuesday.
Curwensville 4, Elk County Catholic 0
1. Tiara Bumbarger, (unassisted), 9:08.
2. Bumbarger, (unassisted), 18:42.
3. Krista Kolesar, (Taylor Goodman), 61:32.
4. Cheyenne Geisler, (Bumbarger), 68:37.
Shots: Elk County Catholic 5, Curwensville 15.
Saves: Elk County Catholic (Hannah Onink) 7, Curwensville (Tiffany Carter) 3.
Corner kicks: Elk County Catholic 0, Curwensville 2.