WILLIAMSPORT — The Athens High girls soccer team dropped a heartbreaker in the first round of the state playoffs as Berwick scored a 1-0 victory over the Lady Wildcats at the Balls Mills Soccer Complex on Tuesday.
Berwick sophomore Emma Colone deflected in the lone goal for the Bulldogs to secure the playoff victory over the Wildcats.
The Wildcats started the game on the front foot. The Bulldogs were hemmed back in their own half due to a high press implemented from the Wildcats.
Athens senior defender Haley Chambers sent in a perfectly placed ball to the foot of senior striker Abby Sindoni three minutes in, but she couldn’t finish.
“Sometimes the game is cruel and tonight was one of those nights,” Athens Head Coach Rich Pitts said. “We just couldn’t put a ball in the back of the net, and (we) had some absolutely brilliant chances and sometimes the game just doesn’t go your way.”
Athens used the wings to generate most of the team’s offense in the first half. The Wildcats would have three more dangerous crosses in the opening half but none resulted in a goal.
With just over five minutes remaining in the half, against the run of play, Berwick freshman Morgan Lisnock fired a weak shot on net and Colone tipped it in giving the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
The Wildcats came out with a fire lit under the squad in the second half. Athens dominated possession of the ball and created several quality scoring chances. At the 22nd minute mark a ball bounced to the feet of Sindoni just outside the box and she fired a one-timed volley just over the goal.
Sindoni would have one final chance with just over seven minutes remaining as junior midfielder Emma Roe pierced the defense with a perfect through-ball to the feet of Sindoni, but a heavy touch resulted in the Bulldogs goalie easily retaining possession.
Berwick did a phenomenal job of holding tough on defense and limited any further quality chances on goal to close out the game. Athens finished the game with 10 shots compared to the 6 of Berwick.
This is a very emotional send-off for the most decorated senior class in Athens school history.
“That senior group is the group that came in with me when I started coaching so they hold a special place in my heart ... the things they have done as a group is just absolutely amazing” Pitts said. “They walk out of here with 61 wins, four league titles, two district titles, which is something that no other Athens senior class could say that they accomplished.”
The Lady Wildcats will look to reload and return to the state playoffs next season.
“Our junior group is small but Emma Roe will be returning as well as Hannah Blackman and Hannah Walker. We have some girls that are coming up from the modified team that will make an immediate impact,” Pitts said. “We will be young but I like the way things are shaping up for the program.”