Lance Lysowski | Observer Reporter
The clock struck zero and the scoreboard looked familiar to Canon-McMillan.
As Peters Township’s players celebrated at midfield and the Big Macs walked away with their heads hanging, C-M could not help but experience deja vu.
Again, a one-goal defeat at the hands of the Indians.
Senior forward Carly Johns scored in the 55th minute and junior goalkeeper Reilly McGlumphy made two breakaway saves as Peters Township defeated Canon-McMillan, 1-0, to clinch the Section 4-AAA title.
It is the Indians’ seventh section title in head coach Pat Vereb’s eight years at Peters Township (10-1, 14-1-1), while Canon-McMillan (9-3, 12-3-1), which could have tied for first place with a victory, dropped to third place.
“I thought we played very, very well,” Vereb said. “When you are playing against one of the top goalkeepers in the state, you have to. It’s hard to get those goals and when you get an opportunity, you have to capitalize.”
Vereb was referring to Big Macs senior Kyra Murphy, who made several outstanding saves Wednesday night, but she was inches away from saving the game. The Big Macs committed a foul in their own end to set up senior defender Laurel Carpenter for a direct kick from 35 yards.
Carpenter’s shot skipped wide and was headed out of bounds when senior midfielder Madison Schwerzler kicked the ball over her head, lofting it perfectly in front of the net. Murphy was able to get a finger on it, but the ball skipped behind her and Johns put it in the net for the 1-0 lead.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” Johns said. “We worked so hard for this all season. We always practice set pieces and it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.”
Four minutes later, Canon-McMillan sophomore forward Aideen O’Donoghue broke free on a breakaway. McGlumphy exited her net to challenge O’Donoghue, who shot the ball right into the goalkeeper’s chest.
O’Donoghue almost scored in the 15th minute when sophomore forward Sabrina Bryan corralled a pass and sprinted forward. She drew two defenders before dropping it off to O’Donoghue, who was alone on net where she shot the ball into the hands of McGlumphy.
“(McGlumphy) made a couple of big saves tonight,” Vereb said. “She stepped up in big moments and they certainly had opportunities. It’s great to see your keeper come up big in those situations.”
After the Indians took the 1-0 lead with 24 minutes to play, the Big Macs pressed offensively – forcing the ball down field, but adjustments could not be executed. Peters Township’s defenders collapsed on Bryan and kept C-M’s forwards from getting the ball in space.
With less than a minute to play, the Indians made a crucial mistake by committing a foul in their own end – setting Big Macs senior defender Abby Gillespie up for a direct kick at midfield. She perfectly placed the ball in front of the net, but it was knocked away and Peters Township held on for the win.
“They’re a good team. They capitalized on our mistake and we can’t afford to commit fouls within Carpenter”s range,” Derrico said. “Once again, it was a set piece and a 1-0 game. Our keeper got a hand on it, but not enough.”
The Indians finish section play against Trinity before embarking on another postseason run. The challenge became a bit stingier when junior center back Mariah Vucich left the game with an injury. PT will be attempting to advance to its seventh WPIAL final in 11 years.
“Our biggest thing is we have to get healthy,” Vereb said. “We have 10 days to do that and have two more games on the schedule. It’s nice to win the section, but there’s more work to do.”