EAST STROUDSBURG - Since the Mountain Valley Conference switched to a playoff format to decide its soccer champion three years ago, only two girls' teams have played for the title.
Stroudsburg put an end to Pleasant Valley's five-year dominance in 2008, but the Lady Bears exacted revenge on the Mounties last year and took back the title.
Thursday night the Bears officially started a new streak by knocking off Stroudsburg in the 2010 championship game, 3-0. While Pleasant Valley didn't necessarily dominate the game, it did so on the score board and shut out the Mounties for the second time this season. The Bears have now won seven of the last eight MVC titles.
"Losing one of our main defenders in Vicky (Cimino) last game was huge for us," said Pleasant Valley head coach Tim Hinton. "But like I said, we have six solid defenders including her. No matter what combination we put in there, I was pretty confident with it.
"When Vicky went down, the girls got together and dedicated this game to her. So I knew all of them were going to be playing with everything they had."
Pleasant Valley scored its first goal mid-way through the first half. On their first and only corner of the half, the Bears' Kira Sever lined up for the kick and punted it to the far post. Teammate Kayla Dorney followed the flight while fighting off a Stroudsburg defender and was able to get her right foot on the ball. She redirected the ball back toward the net and had it squeak between Mountie goalie Ashley Ward and the post.
The Bears capitalized on yet another corner early in the second half. Sever once again pooched the ball to the front of the net, where a bunch of girls from both teams were waiting. After the ball bounced around for a few seconds, Hannah Bernier was in the right place at the right time and kicked the ball up into the inside of the net for the score.
"Like I tell the girls, if you keep the ball in the box and you keep it alive - good things will happen," said Hinton. "We didn't even try the one corner play we drew up. but the other ones worked so we will take them."
Sever then added a goal of her own with 18:47 to go in the game. The junior picked up a loose ball at the top of the box and let a shot rip from right to left. Ward dove to her right but wasn't able to get a piece of the ball. At that point the game was all but over.
Although Stroudsburg controlled most of the play in the early part of the first half and had two shots to Pleasant Valley's zero, the Bears finished the half strong and ended up with more shots (4-3). Their play carried over to the second frame, where the Bears racked up seven shots and six corners to the Mounties' three and two.
Jackie Guiliano once again did a stellar job in net. The senior stopped all five shots that were on goal and tallied her 12th shutout of the season - a new school record. Pleasant Valley will likely be awarded the No. 2 seed in the District 11 AAA tournament. It will receive a first-round bye and will likely host a game next Friday.
Hinton took over as the head coach before last year and admitted feeling some pressure to carry on the program's MVC dominance. Now, two-for-two in MVC title games, Hinton refused to take any credit for the win. Instead, he gave it all to his girls.
"As a coach, you can only do so much," said Hinton. "You have to have the players. I was lucky enough to inherit last year's team, which was a great group.
"I knew we would never really match that this year, but these girls have become really close. The players make the game work and they are the ones who play it. They are the ones who make me look good. I just try to keep them organized."