Bears advance to championship game
In any playoff game scenario, the mantra, "Survive and advance" always rings true.
The Pleasant Valley girls' soccer team utilized that same attitude when it came time for their Mountain Valley Conference semifinal game against Pocono Mountain East as they defeated the Cardinals, 4-1, to move on to the league finals against Stroudsburg.
Scoring two goals in each half, the Lady Bears' offense proved to be too much for their opponent as they survived and are now advancing on to the next round.
"We knew that the scores in the regular season didn't matter at this point," Pleasant Valley head coach Tim Hinton said. "Especially when we were playing against someone that we're so used to seeing in the playoffs."
The Lady Bears (17-2), had an undefeated regular season in the league, which included two decisive wins over the Cardinals, making this the third time they met.
Thanks to some early scoring and settling into their style of play in the later stages, the Bears never relinquished control of the game.
"We got a couple (goals) early," Hinton said. "Then, once we settled down in the second half, stretched our field out, we were able to control them."
Ema Sabovic scored on a penalty kick just over 10 minutes into the game to give her team the lead, and ten minutes later, Keri Dekmar and Gabby Lucchese teamed up on a give-and-go to yield a 2-0 advantage.
However, with time winding down in the first half, a Pocono Mountain East penalty kick made things interesting at the intermission, as Sydney Jackson nailed one in to cut the Bears' lead in half.
In the second half, the Bears seemed more focused on a gameplan and controlled the action, and eventually saw Sabovic score another goal off a feed from Lucchese for a 3-1 lead with 20:42 left in the game.
Pleasant Valley added more cushion to its lead as Dekmar scored on an open goal off a deflection to produce the final outcome.
"At halftime, I told them that I thought we had to settle down and play smarter," Hinton said. "I thought we were giving away way too many easy balls to them, and also, we weren't moving to keep our passes simple."
The Bears outshot East, 15-6. Pocono goalie Bryanna Vias stopped 10 shots while the Bears' Hailey Parks had two saves for the Bears.
With the win, Pleasant Valley moves on to face Stroudsburg, a 4-0 winner over Pocono Mountain West in the first semifinal. The championship game will be Saturday at 7:30 at East Stroudsburg South.
"We are going to have to keep our focus," Hinton said. "It was nice to get two wins against Stroudsburg during the regular season, but we know they're going to come back because they've spoiled it for us twice in the past. Now we want to return the favor and get this win."