West Branch wins for shot at McCort
West Branch had the right mix — a veteran scorer and a first-year coach — and beat Cambria Heights, 1-0, on Wednesday night at Mansion Park to advance to the finals of the District 6 Class 1A girls soccer tournament.
The Warriors will face top-seed Bishop McCort in the championship game Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Richland. McCort blanked Grace Prep, 5-0, in the other semifinal Wednesday.
West Branch senior striker Sam Hanslovan scored the game’s only goal with 1:27 remaining in the first half.
“Maddie Turner gave me a great ball from the right wing,” Hanslovan said. “It was perfectly timed, went above the defender and I was able to put it into the right corner (of the cage).”
Hanslovan, the Warriors’ leading scorer for four years, said it’s the first time West Branch has made the district playoffs in those four years.
“It feels good after all the years of being unsuccessful and not getting out of it what we put into it,” Hanslovan said. “It’s good we’re finally getting what we deserve.”
Hanslovan also credited first-year coach Angie Fenush.
“The new coaching is really, really helping,” Hanslovan said of Fenush. “It’s been a big factor for us.”
Both teams missed several scoring chances and Fenush credited that to the turf.
“Both teams had bad touches on the turf,” Fenush said. “Neither of us played on turf all season so it was kind of ugly.
“We had more opportunities so we should have had more goals,” she said, “but the girls fought through it.”
Fenush praised her team’s defensive effort, noting “our backline, middle defenders and our freshman keeper (Sarah Betts) were tough. We don’t score a lot but we possess the ball well.”
It was Heights’ first playoff appearance since 2011, according to third-year coach Brittany Hrubochak.
“My girls had a hard time adjusting to the turf,” she said. “Our wings usually have beautiful crosses, but they couldn’t seem to catch up with the ball.
“We got a little more hang of it at the end,” she noted, “but it was difficult for them at the beginning.
“The girls played hard,” she added. “The shots were there … we just didn’t make them.”
SCORE BY HALVES
Cambria Heights 0 0 — 0
West Branch 1 0 — 1
First half: WB–Hanlovan (Turner), 38:33.
Records: Cambria Heights (7-10-1); West Branch (13-5-1).