WHITEHALL Coming off of an exciting victory in the District 11 quarterfinals over last year's District runner up Easton, the Pleasant Valley girls soccer team found itself in the final four, and matched up against the dominant defending champs Parkland Trojans.
A goal that may have been screened from the view of goalkeeper Sarah Elmontacir, proved pivotal in a 2-0 loss to the Trojans in the semifinals on Tuesday at Whitehall High School.
The Bears will still have a chance to make the State tournament. Winning the consolation game on Thursday at Whitehall against Northwestern will send them through.
"That's our big focus now," said head coach Tim Hinton on advancing to states. "It will be hard to come back out after the loss, but how many teams can say that they have a chance to go to the state tournament. We have one more shot. We're a solid group and know what's at stake. We'll be focused and go from there."
Elmontacir, a senior leader, played like one for the Bears. She kept her team in the game, and shouted out words of motivation for her team to follow.
The Trojans came out firing on the offensive end, outshooting Pleasant Valley 8-2 in the first half. Elmontacir made four first half saves, but one she missed, or couldn't see, gave Parkland a 1-0 advantage.
At the 17:55 mark, Camille Roberts received the ball after a missed clearance. She hit a shot through the defense that took a skip on the turf and bounced over the outstretched arms of Elmontacir.
"Any time you go down in a game it deflates you a little bit," noted Hinton. "I think we held our own out there. Right before that goal, if we could've cashed in on one of those chances we had, that would've been huge for us. She split two defenders with her shot, it might have been screened, but she placed the ball well."
Dianna Connor had a great opportunity of her own about two minutes before that opening goal. She took the ball nearly 30 yards out, and raced through two defenders and had a clearing at goal, but shot just wide past the goal post.
Connor was a focal point of the offensive attack for the Bears. Late in the second half, after Parkland controlled much of the possession and chances at net, she had more attempts at goal.
For Pleasant Valley (17-5-1), however, they were matched up with a Parkland defense that hasn't allowed a goal in District play for the last two years. They put a wall out there, in a senior laden back four.
"We just focused on Dianna getting the ball at her feet, whether it was coming back into space or over the top if the defense was pressing high.
"Depending on where she was at, she would read the play. If we can get the ball at her feet, she can make things happen. Today was just one of those days. With the chances we got, we just couldn't finish."
PV will look to extend its season Thursday in the consolation game.