Bethlehem Press

Friday, January 24, 2020

Freedom girls knock off PV

Monday, October 14, 2019 by Patrick Matsinko pmatsinko@tnonline.com in Sports

Freedom spent the first 40 minutes of Saturday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference girls soccer quarterfinals trying to read and react against Pleasant Valley’s defense.

The Patriots had it figured out in the second half.

An early second-half goal from Haley Gschrey lifted Freedom past the Bears 1-0 and into the EPC semifinals. The Patriots will play No. 2 seed Emmaus Tuesday.

“I think we just picked up our intensity a little bit more,” said Freedom coach Bob Eaton. “I think we were a little tentative to begin the game, and we were a little more comfortable after halftime coming out and just trying to play our game more, and not so much being reactive; we were a little more proactive.”

It didn’t take long for the sixth-seeded Patriots to turn up the intensity, with their first corner of the game coming a little more than 30 seconds after the intermission.

Gschrey found the back of the net after a nice run with 37:04 to play in the second half.

“The first objective was to try and slow down their attack, because they have some good players,” said Pleasant Valley head coach Derek Strohl.

One of which is Gschrey, who was recently named an EPC First Team All-Star for the second straight season. The junior also delivered the decisive goal in the Patriots’ 1-0 win over the Bears earlier this season.

“She finds a way to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Strohl. “We man-marked her for most of the game, but she’s a good player.

“It’s possible that it does take one player from our team off the field, kind of. But we still generated chances, I thought, more in the first half than in the second half.”

Pleasant Valley, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, controlled play during the first 40 minutes and pressured Freedom’s freshman goalie Megan Raffino.

But each time, Raffino and the Patriots’ defense held. Raffino finished with 14 saves.

“The back four was great,” said Eaton. “They really did their job; cleared the ball when it was necessary, and kind of limited their really good scoring chances.

“That’s a good team. That’s a good PV team. We have a lot of respect for them, and to come out of here with a win, we feel very fortunate.”

Raffino’s counterpart, Sam Merklin, finished with 11 saves.

Strohl hoped the momentum of the first half — which saw the Bears hold a 7-4 edge in shots on goal and two corners — would carry over. But the breakthrough never came.

“I guess at the end of the first half, maybe we were a little tired, and we were fouling a little bit,” said Strohl. “But overall, in the first half I felt we generated a lot of pressure and played the ball in their end mostly, I thought.

“We didn’t really change too much (in the second half) … it was the same formation. They just capitalized on a good ball up to her (Gschrey), we got kind of caught out of position, and she made a good finish.”