T-D HS Soccer

Somerset outlasts Bellefonte to advance

By: Walt Moody

ALTOONA — Somerset’s Brandi Dickey had never scored an overtime goal.
The sophomore picked the best time to get her first one.
Dickey scored 1:37 into sudden death as top-seeded Somerset outlasted No. 4 Bellefonte 4-3 at Mansion Park.
The Golden Eagles (18-2) will face No. 2 Westmont Hilltop, a 3-1 winner over Juniata, in Thursday’s title game. Bellefonte ends its season 13-6.
The Red Raiders had the top seeds on the ropes for most of the second half as Morgan Brooks’ goal 8:51 into the half gave Bellefonte a 3-2 lead.
Somerset kept up relentless pressure throughout the remainder of the half, but Bellefonte keeper Nicole Peggs turned back several strong scoring chances to keep the Red Raiders in the lead.
Somerset finally got even with about 10 minutes remaining. Off a corner kick, Madi McKinley ended up with a ball on a wild scramble and pushed it past Peggs to tie the score.
The Golden Eagles controlled most of the remaining minutes, but could not score.
Still, they entered the overtime with momentum swung into their favor.
“We were all fired up and ready to go,” said Dickey. “We just knew it was us.”
“We knew that we had to go in there and make it happen right off the bat,” added Somerset coach Renee Ross said. “Everyone was tired and we just wanted to get that goal and make it to the championship game.”
The Golden Eagles wouldn’t have to wait long.
A foul in the left corner gave them what was effectively a corner kick, something they had scored off of twice in regulation.
Chandler Marteeny booted in front and the ball found its way to Dickey.
“I just saw Chandler kick it and I saw the back post was wide open,” Dickey said. “I knew it had to go there and I just finished it.”
Somerset held an 18-7 edge in shots and a 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
“We were well aware that was one of their weapons,” Bellefonte coach Stacey Miller said of the corner kicks. “Unfortunately, they got us with it tonight.”
With the game tied 1-all at the half, the action heated up right out of the locker room in crazy 2-minute stretch early in the second half.
Bellefonte benefited from the wild stretch.
The Red Raiders grabbed their first lead thanks to a 30-yard blast from Nikki Purnell.  After Morgan Brooks won a header, Purnell  moved up and booted the loose ball that perfectly cleared the reach of Somerset keeper Shania Steinkirchner and under the crossbar.
But the lead lasted just 21 seconds. Somerset’s Sam Thompson bounced on a loose ball in the box and beat Bellefonte’s Nicole Peggs to tie the score.
The scoreboard didn’t stay at 2-all for long. Brooks took a ball away from a defender and left-footed it in to give Bellefonte the lead.
Somerset controlled most of the play in the first half and broke through on an early corner kick.  Marteeny’s boot from the right side found Lexi Pucci on a scramble in the box and Pucci left-footed into the upper left corner of the net to give the Golden Eagles a 1-0 lead at the 12:13 mark.
Peggs kept the Red Raiders in the contest with several  stops, including one point-blank with 15 minutes left in the half. It proved important as the Red Raiders tied the score just five minutes later.
A poor Somerset corner kick from the left side led to a Bellefonte breakout down the middle with Madisen Paige and Brooks in a two-on-one with a Somerset defender.
Paige touched a crossing pass to a wide open Brooks as Somerset keeper  Steinkirchner raced out to try to intercept. Brooks beat Steinkirchner to the ball an easily tucked a shot into the wide open net to tie the score with a little more than 10 minutes left in the half.
Bellefonte would need to dodge one more bullet before the halftime horn sounded. Somerset was awarded a penalty kick after a collision in the box. McKinley took it, but missed the net wide left.
Peggs had eight saves for the Red Raiders, while Steinkirchner had three.
An emotional Miller praised her club.
“It was a fantastic season,” Miller said. “It was a great team, great work ethic. They’re just a good group of girls and they stepped up. We talked about this is why you play high school soccer to win a district championship. They did everything they could to try to get there.”