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Opportunities go by the wayside for Lady Bisons

BRIDGEVILLE — The chances were there. The goals weren’t.

Bedford’s girls soccer team saw its quest for a second straight PIAA Class 2A title end Saturday afternoon in a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to Villa Maria at Chartiers Valley High School.

“We just didn’t finish. We had our opportunities,” Bedford coach Jeff Thomas said. “I thought we played a good game, but just didn’t capitalize on the opportunities we had.”

The Erie-based Victors (17-6-0) limited the Lady Bisons (21-1-1) to four shots on goal — just one in the second half.

“Our defense and goalie have been fantastic this year,” Villa Maria coach Peter Wagner said. “I think we have 12 or 13 clean sheets and it’s a testament to their hard work and communication with each other.

“It’s always big to knock off the defending state champs. Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win our region and we got that completed. Then, we wanted to win our district and we got that completed. We want to win the state title and we’re one step closer.”

Bedford, which had outscored its opponents, 146-4, entering the contest, suffered its first loss since 2017.

“I can’t ask for any more than the way they played – they played the whole 80 minutes,” Thomas said. “(Villa Maria) played good, fundamental soccer. They are a solid team and play good soccer.”

Villa Maria, which advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals, had the first two scoring chances. Ella Raimondi slipped through the defense, but her shot from 10 yards out was deflected wide 9:03 into the contest. On the ensuing corner kick, Abby Godlewski’s boot curled toward the near post, but Bedford goalkeeper Lindsay Mowry got a hand on the ball and it deflected off the crossbar and sailed back into play.

Grace Sarver nearly gave Bedford its first goal with 9:22 left in the first half. She took a pass and split the defense, but Victors goalkeeper Alex Velez charged off her line, slid and blocked Sarver’s shot.

Villa Maria was awarded a penalty kick with 2:19 left after one of its players was taken down in the penalty area. However, Mowry dove to her left and stopped Godlewski’s low shot.

The Victors broke through, though, with 22 seconds left in the half on Alexa Tojaga’s goal. A long pass deflected to her at the top of the penalty area. She launched a long shot from the near side into the far corner of the goal.

“Getting a penalty is awesome, but our girl was basically in tears beating herself up that she didn’t score. That’s a big momentum changer,” Wagner said. “To get that goal shortly after was absolutely enormous.”

Bedford appeared to tie the contest 39 seconds into the second half when Sarver put the ball into the goal after a collision with Velez. However, the goal was waved off after it was determined Velez had the ball in her hands before Sarver kicked it.

“I wasn’t sure what happened, but I was kind of surprised at that,” Thomas said.

Bedford’s Sydney Taracatac almost had the equalizer with 19:22 remaining. Her corner kick from the near side clanged off the crossbar and deflected back into play.

The Bisons ratcheted up the offensive pressure in the final 15 minutes and dominated possession, but did not produce any clear scoring chances.

“Sometimes, I think what happens is, when you have time like that, you get too much urgency. Instead of connecting some better passes, we kept taking some shots sooner than we probably should have,” Thomas said.

With only three senior starters graduating in defenders Olivia Arnold and Taylor Downs and forward Kiley Horne, Bedford is poised to be a contender for a fifth straight District 5 title next year.

“I thought it was a great season,” Thomas said. “I am proud of their accomplishments. We made a lot of improvements as the year went on.”

SCORE BY HALVES

Bedford 0 0 — 0

Villa Maria 1 0 — 1

First Half: V-Tojaga (unassisted), 39:38.

Records: Villa Maria (17-6-0); Bedford (21-1-1)

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