Pleasant Valley drops title game
bob ford/times news filephoto Pleasant Valley's Gabrielle Lucchese dribbles the ball during a game earlier this season. The Bears lost Stroudsburg in the MVC championship game on Saturday.
EAST STROUDSBURG - The results of the Mountain Valley Conference championships are getting old to Tim Hinton and his coaching staff.
Last year, the Pleasant Valley girls' soccer team got the best of Stroudsburg during its two regular season meetings only to fall to the Mounties in overtime in the championship game.
This year, things were no different as the Mounties once again rebounded from two regular season losses to the Bears and handed them their first conference loss of the season. Stroudsburg's 1-0 victory on Saturday at East Stroudsburg South High School gave it its second straight Mountain Valley Conference championship.
While Hinton and his coaching staff stood in dismay, the PV players shed plenty of tears, followiung their fourth consecutive one-goal loss in the MVC title game.
Since winning the conference title in 2010, the Bears dropped a 1-0 decision to Stroudsburg in the Spring of 2011, suffered a 2-1 loss to Pocoono Mountain East in the Spring of 2012, and were dealt a 2-1 setback in double overtime to Stroudsburg in the Fall of 2012.
"It hurts," Hinton said. "I'm definitely getting sick of being on this end of it."
And, one can be sure that the sixth year Bears' mentor is sick of watching one goal decide the outcome in the MVC championship game as well.
Once again, that's the way it was as the Mounties' Bria Bittiger's goal with 25:09 left in the opening half was all the scoring on Saturday. Bittiger found a way to get around two Pleasant Valley defenders with the ball and poke a shot to the back right of the Bears' net. It was Bittiger's 39th goal of the season, and her 96th of the junior Mountie's career.
"She just brings a whole another aspect to the table," said Hinton, of the MVC Most Valuable Player. "We know how dangerous she is. She's just that dangerous. Tonight, she hurt us."
In the first half, the Bears could only muster three shots, including one close call when Rachel Steinmark shot ricchochet off the right post.
In the second half, the Bears refused to roll over without a fight, making the most of every possession they had. Steinmark was the first to get a shot off in what turned out to be a half played in a complete downpour in the first six minutes. The Bears were able to outshoot the Mounties 7-5 in the last 40 minutes of play, but just couldn't capitalize on any opportunities to force another overtime game with Stroudsburg.
"They played tough the entire game," said Mounties' head coach Cindy Svensson. "I told my team at halftime, '1-0 ... That's basically like 0-0. This could go either way.'
"The game was not over by any means. We had to put up a battle the whole game because Pleasant Valley did. But we were able to hold them off."
While his program has only won conference gold twice in his six years with the program ('10, '09), Hinton still found a way to turn another negative in the title game into somewhat of a positive in the end.
"I'm proud of my girls," Hinton said. "They worked until the end. Sometime things go your way, sometime's they don't. Stroudsburg is a great team. They pushed us to the limit tonight.
"They capitalized once. They limited our chances, so give them credit."