Central slips past Ligonier Valley

Ashley Negley and her Central teammates peppered Ligonier Valley with shot after shot Thursday in the District 6 2A quarterfinals but for more than 77 minutes could not score.

Negley finally put one in the back of the net with 2:51 to give the Lady Dragons a 1-0 win at Mansion Park.

From deep on the right wing, Cassie Mock passed ball to the edge of the box, and it caromed around before Negley put it in on her 18th shot of the game.

“I saw my girl in the corner. She always gets a good cross on the ball. So I knew I had to be by the goal and hopefully, tap it in,” Negley said. “I went to head it and missed. It bounced off someone. The keeper was on the ground, and I had an open goal.”

Second-seeded Central possessed the ball nearly the entire game, outshooting the 10-th seeded Lady Rams 39-1.

“We need some practice on finishing. It’s something we’ve been dealing with all season. We go through spurts where everything goes in and then there’s time where we can’t find the back of the net,” Central coach Brian Campbell said.

Some shots went wide of the net or over it, but Lexie Petrof gets most of the credit for keeping Central off the scoreboard.

The senior keeper made several sprawling saves on shots from close range and fielded every shot from further out.

“This is my 16th year coaching, and I’ve never had a keeper I trusted more. She is a competitor, a D-1 softball recruit,” LV coach Eric Vogelsang said. “I knew it would be a game like this. We had to get some good bounces. Lexie had to play out of her mind. We had to defend well and hope for a counter.”

The longer the game remained scoreless, the more Ligonier Valley’s chances of pulling the upset increased.

“We always talk about coming out fast on teams. We don’t want to let them to hang around. The longer they hang around, the more confidence they get. All it takes is one simple mistake, and they’re in the back of the net,” Campbell said.

“I knew the law of averages would catch up to us eventually. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it was an even game possession-wise,” Vogelsang added. “We played with such heart and such passion. Sometimes you can pull a miracle that way. We were three minutes away.”

Central moves on to Monday’s quarterfinals to play Penn Cambria, who defeated Central Cambria 1-0 in double overtime Thursday to advance. Ligonier Valley’s season ends with an 8-6-4 mark.

SCORE BY HALVES

Ligonier Valley 0 0 — 0

Central 0 1 — 1

Second half: Negley (unassisted), 2:51.

Records: Ligonier Valley (8-6-4); Central (16-2-1).

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