Lady Bisons determined to duplicate 2017 success

ALLISON PARK — Don’t feel sorry for the Bedford Lady Bisons.

Coach Jeff Thomas certainly wasn’t hanging his head on Monday at the PIAA girls soccer semifinals after witnessing the team’s only loss.

He was already looking forward to next season, when Bedford will be expected to return a majority of its players.

“We think we can do this sort of thing again because we’ve got a good group of girls coming back,” Thomas said.

Four seniors will graduate this year after helping to lead Bedford on a school record-setting run that ended with a 1-0 loss to Mercyhurst Prep in the PIAA Class 2A semifinals at Hampton High School.

“It’s frustrating,” Thomas said, “but they won 23 straight games and got farther than the school has ever gotten. You’ve just got to keep working at it.

“It’s a shame for the seniors that are going to be gone, but they set the bar a little higher for everybody else.”

In a game that presented multiple scoring chances for both teams, District 10 Mercyhurst Prep (19-4-2) managed to survive.

“They put the pressure on us in the second half,” Mercyhurst Prep coach Jamie Borowicz said. “We bent a little, but we didn’t break.”

Yeshim Onipede’s second-half goal with 10 minutes and 39 seconds left accounted for the only score and sent the Lady Lakers into the championship game against District 1 champion St. Basil, a 1-0 winner in the semifinals over District 11 champion Northwest Lehigh, on Friday at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey.

Onipede’s goal, from close range on a corner pass from Ashley Michaels, was the first given up in the PIAA tournament by Bedford freshman goalkeeper Lindsay Mowry.

Earlier, she stopped a handful of Mercyhurst shots, including a drive by Michaels from left of the circle.

Mowry kept Mercyhurst Prep from adding to its lead by blocking Kaitlyn Kneidinger’s breakaway shot with 6:58 left.

“She’s got good hands,” Thomas said. “For a freshman, she’s come a long way and saved us in a lot of these types of games.”

District 5 champion Bedford (23-1), behind Mowry, scored a pair of 1-0 victories in the PIAA playoffs against Schuylkill Valley and Waynesburg Central leading to its semifinals meeting with Mercyhurst Prep, which will be making its second consecutive trip to the PIAA championship game.

The Lady Lakers dropped a 4-1 decision to District 3 champion Camp Hill Trinity in the 2016 game.

Bedford kept the pressure on Mercyhurst Prep for much of the game, playing a relentless style. The Lady Bisons failed to convert a number of chances, including Olivia Arnold’s penalty kick in the second half that hit the crossbar and bounded away.

Mercyhurst goalkeeper Ashley Vandamia turned aside two notable Bedford shots, when Emily Martz fired a hard offering with 7:35 left in the first half and when Jaden Shomo got loose in front and guided a shot toward the net with 1:30 to go.

“This has been a total team effort, starting with the hard work all summer long. And it shows whenever they get on the field,” Thomas said. “This team played great together, and we’re losing four quality seniors who helped us to the semifinals for the first time. They showed great leadership. We hope the younger players will continue to work hard.”

SCORE BY HALVES

Mercyhurst Prep 0 1–1

Bedford 0 0–0

First half: No scoring.

Second half: MP–Yeshim Onipede (Ashley Michaels), 10:39.

Records: Mercyhurst Prep (19-4-2); Bedford (23-1).

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