Lance Lysowski | Observer Reporter
Canon-McMillan had the momentum. The Big Macs scored the tying goal in the second half and came within inches of taking lead.
Then Peters Township finished the game in its usual fashion: with a late, game-deciding goal and a defense that clamped down to put its opponent away. Senior midfielder Laurel Carpenter scored the game-winning goal in the 78th minute and the defense took care of the rest as the Indians defeated Canon-McMillan, 2-1, in a Section 4-AAA match Thursday night.
“The game could have gone either way,” Peters Township head coach Pat Vereb said. “These two teams are well on their way to a playoff run. We were just opportunistic. (C-M) is definitely a team and a program that has been building for years and they are very good.”
The two teams were tied, 1-1, when freshman forward Breanne Latsko was fouled near the far sideline. Junior midfielder Mariah Vucich took the ensuing free kick and placed it perfectly in front of the Big Macs’ net, where Carpenter was there to one-time it in for the lead. The goal came after senior forward Carly Johns broke the scoreless tie early in the second half.
“It feels great because they are a great team,” Johns said. “It’s always a rivalry, and it always feels best beating a rival.”
Canon-McMillan (4-2, 5-2-1) did not wilt because of the one-goal deficit. The Big Macs sustained offensive pressure for the remaining 10 minutes and almost capitalized with less than three minutes to play, when senior defender Abby Gillespie took a free kick that bounced in front of the net. Several C-M players tried to gather the ball, but it was finally knocked away by the Indians (5-0, 8-0).
“We pride ourselves on being organized defensively,” Vereb said. “We hope to get leads and not be reckless with the ball late in games. For the last 10 or 15 minutes, you are really just trying to hold the other team off.”
After a first half where both teams were testing each other’s discipline on defense, Peters Township scored shortly after halftime on the leg of one of its senior leaders. Latsko corralled a loose ball in the corner and saw Johns sprinting towards the goal in the 41st minute. She placed the pass low, which Johns one-timed from 10 yards out to beat Canon-McMillan senior goalkeeper Kyra Murphy at the far post for a 1-0 lead.
“I just lost my marker running in and capitalized on a great opportunity from (Latsko),” Johns said. “It’s great to get ready for the playoffs and play equal competition.”
After allowing just one goal through seven matches, the Indians looked mortal against a speedy Canon-McMillan attack up top. The Big Macs attempted to place a ball in front of the net and finally succeeded in the 46th minute when senior midfielder Lauren Hess gathered a loose ball from a free kick in front of the goal and fired it past Peters Township junior goalkeeper Reilly McGlumphy to tie the game at one.
Despite being just the second team all season to score against Peters Township, Big Macs head coach Dave Derrico was not pleased with the outcome. Yet again, C-M lost a one-goal game to the Indians.
“We allowed them to get two set pieces, and they scored on both,” Derrico said. “I thought we were better than they were for most of the game. We didn’t finish our opportunities and made a couple of defensive mistakes. Once again, they found a way to get the extra goal.”