Easton's free kick sinks Bears
LINDA ROTHROCK/Special to THE TIMES NEWS Pleasant Valley's Emma Sabovic (11) moves on the offensive against Easton.
NAZARETH With Easton's last win being a high scoring affair with Bangor, Pleasant Valley was hoping to be able to find some holes in the Red Rovers defense.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Easton patched those holes and the two teams played almost an hour of soccer before Caitlyn Lucas scored for Easton on a free kick to give her team a 1-0 victory and a ticket to the District 11 Class AAA finals against Parkland.
Throughout the first half of the semifinal contest, Easton seemed poised to score, but ultimately couldn't connect on their opportunities. Bears' goalie Hailey Parks was up to the task and made four saves, including stopping a shot from Easton's Natalie Perdue, who had a rebound bounce right to her only to have Parks make an acrobatic save to keep the game scoreless.
Pleasant Valley seemed to be getting the better of the Red Rovers in the second half until a tripping penalty gave Lucas a free kick and she was able to get the ball past Janelle Pastrana, who came in to play goal for the Bears in the second half.
"I saw where the keeper was playing and she was a little to one side of the net, so I shot for the opening and was able to get the goal," said Lucas of how she got the ball past Pastrana.
The goal didn't damper the spirits of Pleasant Valley, who continued to pressure Easton, but weren't able to get the ball past goalie Erin Anagnost, who made six saves in the game. Overall, Easton held a slight 7-6 advantage in shots on goal and a 2-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Pleasant Valley finished the Mountain Valley Conference regular season 12-0, but lost to Stroudsburg 1-0 in the conference finals. After a first round bye in the district tournament, they beat Pocono Mountain West 1-0 in the quarterfinals before meeting up with Easton.
"There's no doubt that we had a great season," said coach Tim Hinton. "I feel bad for our seniors, because you always want to see them go out better than this, especially after a disappointing loss in the conference finals, but they can hold their heads high."
The Bears will lose nine seniors Aubrey Aldinger, Keri Dekmar, Gabby Lucchese, Dana McAllister, Hailey Parks, Janelle Pastrana, Ema Sabovic, Kaitlyn Smith and Victoria Weismeth to graduation leaving a number of holes to fill.
The losses will become especially difficult as the Bears move into a new league comprised of teams from the MVC and Lehigh Valley Conference starting with next fall's sports season.
"We have a good group of girls that are going to be leaving, but we also have a good core group of girls who will be back for us to build around," said Hinton. "It's always bittersweet, because you lose some great girls, but there are new opportunities that open up."
The district finals will have Easton facing Parkland in a rematch of the Lehigh Valley Conference finals that was won by the Red Rovers in penalty kicks.