HOLLIDAYSBURG - After falling to Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic earlier in the season, Richland coach Nathan Gironda was searching for solutions to tame the Lady Marauder offense entering Tuesday's District 6 Class A championship game.
He found that answer in the form of his defense, which held the Lady Marauders to one goal, as the Lady Rams captured their fifth district title in six years, 2-1, in two overtime periods at Tiger Stadium.
It was the lowest output of the season for the Guilfoyle offense, which had been averaging almost eight goals per game.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
The BG girls soccer team walks off the field following Tuesday’s double-overtime loss to Richland in the finals.
"We used a zone earlier in the year against them," Gironda said. "Tonight was straight man-to-man defense as our idea was to be on them at all times. We followed their forwards wherever they went. We had that plan to slow down their potent offense and the girls executed it perfectly."
Richland was able to finish the game when speedy freshman forward Emily Hill streaked down the right sideline with the ball before beating two Guilfoyle defenders and sending the Lady Rams to the PIAA playoffs.
The goal came a little more than 1 minute into the second overtime period, which would have gone to penalty kicks after that.
"We said let's go home," Gironda said. "Let's get out of here. I never wanted the game to be decided by a shootout, win or lose. We have done too much to lose. That's what we talked about 10 seconds before the second overtime and we got it done."
It was Richland defender Katie Devan that had the assignment to guard Alyssa McGhee, as Devan and the other Lady Ram defenders made things tough for the Lady Marauder forwards with their physical play.
"We didn't take care of the ball as well as we normally do," Bishop Guilfoyle coach Harry McGhee said. "Their relentless pressure hurried us to make decisions. We're a young team that never fully gained our composure."
After Alyssa McGhee exited the game just minutes into the second half due to a collision with two Lady Ram defenders, Richland got on the board first when a Karissa Wellington corner kick found the net after being mishandled by Guilfoyle keeper Gabby Smith.
The Richland goal seemed to jumpstart Guilfoyle, as McGhee reentered the game after the Richland goal in an effort to even the score.
With 28 minutes remaining, McGhee gained control of a Madison Rustin corner kick, before shooting off the top crossbar for Guilfoyle's best scoring chance at that point.
It was ten minutes later that the Lady Marauder persistence paid off, as Alana Hallinan passed to McGhee, who placed the shot to the left of keeper Sam Hauser to knot the game.
"The girls have a great attitude and drive," coach McGhee said. "They tried to remain focused and get back to their game when they worked the ball up on Alyssa's goal. That gave us some momentum and drive to get back into the game."
Guilfoyle forward Jordan DeLeo found herself with two opportunities to end the game just minutes into the first overtime period, but both times sailed the ball just over the crossbar.
DeLeo and forward Delaney Myrick, who are both freshman, provided secondary scoring to McGhee that the Lady Marauders lacked a year ago.
"Last year we struggled with the amount of skill players we had," Harry McGhee said. "It took the pressure off Alyssa when opposing teams wanted to load up defenders on her. [DeLeo and Myrick] gave us a variety of scoring options that we didn't have last year."
McGhee finished with 78 goals this season, a PIAA record, while Myrick added 33 goals and DeLeo netted 19.
The trio of forwards will be three of 10 Guilfoyle starters returning next season, with senior keeper Gabby Smith graduating.
"We were the Laurel Highlands champions and finished the regular season 17-1," McGhee said. "We will look back and recognize what we accomplished and this will drive us to come back next year."
SCORE BY HALVES
Richland0 1 0 1 - 2
Bishop Guilfoyle 0 1 0 0 - 1
Second Half: R-Wellington (unassisted), 46:26; BG-McGhee (Hallinan), 61:45.
Second overtime: R-Hill (unassisted), 96:36
Records: Richland (11-8-2); Bishop Guilfoyle (18-2).