Lady Dragons unable to knock off unbeaten Bedford in championship game

By Jon Fleck

For the Mirror

Emily Martz drilled a shot from midfield to help rally her Bedford team to victory in the District 6 2A championship a year ago.

The strong-legged senior, who kicks for the football team, found herself in a similar situation Thursday at Mansion Park in the title tilt against Central.

Martz put a direct kick over the fingertips of Central keeper Blair Miller and under the crossbar from 45 yards out to tie the game 1-1 with 18:54 left, and Allison Pittman scored the go-ahead goal 1:40 later to give the Lady Bisons a 2-1 win and their second straight district crown. With the victory, Bedford moves into the state playoffs with a perfect 21-0 record.

“It was a little further out last year, past midfield. They’re always hard. The goal’s only so big. When you’re out that far, it’s a small target,” Martz said. “You kick it, and you hope. A lot of times it falls short, goes over or to the side. If you don’t hit the ball in the right spot, it’ll go right or left. It can be tricky.”

The momentum from the Martz goal carried through to game-winning goal. Following a collision at the edge of the goal area, Robyn Casalena got the ball over to Pittman, who put a low shot in the right corner of the net.

“There were two collisions and Robyn popped the ball the ball over. I settled the ball and took the shot,” Pittman said. “We were told at halftime to connect on those passes and get those shots off. Emily had her free kick and it went in. It just sparked a fire like last year. We knew we had it after that.”

Bedford managed to hold off Central the rest of the way.

The Lady Dragon’s best chance at the equalizer came on a long distance shot that freshman keeper Lindsay Mowry just managed to reach with her fingertips and push it over the top of the net.

“I was like ‘Lindsay Mowry, you’re my favorite freshman. Thank goodness.’ She’s improved so much and has been a strong point for our team this year,” Pittman said.

The first half was slow-moving with both teams feeling their way through trying to establish some offense with little success.

“We weren’t taking shots at all. I don’t care if it was a little further out or whatever. We needed to start shooting,” Bedford coach Jeff Thomas said. “We were possessing the ball decently, but if the ball doesn’t go to the back of the net, you don’t win.”

Central broke through late in the first half with a goal off Cassie Mock’s corner kick moments after Bedford couldn’t convert on two straight corners.

Kirsten Laird got the ball over to Alana Padula for the goal and a 1-0 lead with 1:54 remaining until halftime.

“We had the momentum going into halftime,” Central coach Brian Campbell said. “They came out strong at half like we thought they would. They accomplished what they wanted to by moving the ball and moving off the ball. We struggled with it a little bit. You could feel their momentum building up. Over on the sidelines, we could tell. It was just a matter of whether we could sustain through their momentum and capitalize when we had it.”

Campbell gave the credit to this year’s seniors for turning the program around.

“The senior group really changed this program. The year before they came in as freshman, we only won one game. We went from one win to 12 wins and then went undefeated and won districts. Last year we only had one loss and lost in the semifinals. Now this year,” Campbell said. “They’re disappointed. They really changed the culture of this program and wanted to go out with that medal.”

By reaching the district finals, both teams qualified for the state tournament. Both play Tuesday at sites and times to be determined.

Bedford takes on the District 3 runner-up. It’ll be either Boiling Springs or Schuylkill Valley, which play for the district title Saturday. Central gets District 10 champ Mercyhurst Prep.

SCORE BY HALVES

Central 1 0 — 1

Bedford 0 2 — 2

First half: C–Padula (Laird), 1:54.

Second half: B–Martz (unassisted), 18:54; B–Pittman (Casalena), 17:14.

Records: Central (17-3-1); Bedford (21-0).

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