JOHNSTOWN - Coming into the District 6 A girls semifinal, Bishop Guilfoyle knew the type of talent that Richland possessed, after losing to the Lady Rams earlier this season, 7-2.
On a brisk and windy night at Herlinger Field, Richland proved again why it has been so dominant, shutting out the Lady Marauders, 4-0.
Bishop Guilfoyle had its best - and most controversial - scoring chance of the first half just five minutes in when Jessica Rudolph took the ball down the left side and put it between the legs of goalkeeper Jordan Syfert.
Simultaneously, though, a foul was called on Richland on a play away from the ball and play was stopped as the referee awarded BG a free kick.
Lady Marauders coach Harry McGhee and fans did not agree.
"I thought we should have got the advantage on that play," McGhee said. "That could have been the turning point in the game, and I think it would have been a big momentum change. Who knows what could have happened?"
Most of the first half was played on BG's end of the field, as Richland sophomore midfielder Karissa Wellington provided plenty of scoring chances. But the Lady Marauders defense weathered the storm until Wellington finally cashed in with 12:36 remaining in the half.
Wellington made a step-over move after she obtained possession and ripped a shot past BG goalie Gabby Smith from 25 yards out.
"That was the best half she's played in a while," Richland coach Nathan Gironda stated. "We moved her from a midfield position to forward about four games ago and she has provided our offense with a spark."
Just three minutes after the goal, the Lady Marauders were put in a tough spot when Smith inadvertently got kicked in the head by a Richland forward as she was racing for a ball near the top of the box. Smith was forced to leave for the rest of the game and was replaced by Allison Worley.
"She grabbed the ball and landed on top of it," McGhee said. "Then she was kicked in the head and the trainer thought that she should sit out the rest of the game in case of a concussion. We think she'll be fine."
The second Richland goal came with 5:01 left in the first half, when the Lady Marauders defense failed to clear a goal kick, and Richland's Nicki Mihalik took advantage, giving the Lady Rams a two goal edge at half.
In the second half, things seemed to slow down until Mihalik used her speed to outrun the BG defense to a ball and blew it past Worley from 10 yards away with just under fifteen minutes remaining.
"Nicki played really well the first two-thirds of the season, then she slowed down," Gironda said. "She's a great athlete and will get lost in the game for ten minutes then come out of nowhere and make a big play."
Just minutes later it was Mihalik that struck again, outrunning BG defenders and faking past the goalie before tapping it in to close the scoring.
Despite the loss, the Lady Marauders finished the season with the most wins in school history(11) and recorded their first playoff win.
"I told the girls we have nothing to hold our heads about and this loss should not get us down," McGhee said. "We should be proud of the accomplishments that we have made."
Freshman standout Alyssa McGhee will return next year after scoring 59 goals this season. Tonight was just the third game this year that she failed to score.
"They had a great game plan for Alyssa," Coach McGhee, her father, said. "Usually teams have put two defenders on her and today Richland had three on her. She was able to get possession of the ball, but wasn't able to get the ball back after she would pass."
Gironda was well-aware of McGhee's abilities prior to the game.
"We don't lose to one player and we wanted to make someone else beat us. We told the team that if anyone saw her with just one defender on her, to make sure that she gets covered with multiple defenders."
Richland will go on to its fifth straight district championship game, after winning the previous four. The Lady Rams will play Bishop McCort on Saturday in the District 6 A girls championship held in Johnstown.
"Richland is a great, technical team the way they pass the ball," Harry McGhee noted. "I wish them the best."
SCORE BY HALVES
Bishop Guilfoyle0 0-0
Richland 2 2-4
FIRST HALF: R-Wellington (unassisted), 12:39; R-Mihalik (unassisted), 5:01.
SECOND HALF: R-Mihalik (unassisted), 17:05; R-Mihalik (unassisted), 14:52.
Records: Bishop Guilfoyle (11-9); Richland (10-8-1).