Soccer balls

SOMERSET – Five goals from Renae Mohrbacher and a near flawless performance from goalkeeper Morgan Swab helped power the Freedom Area Bulldogs to a 6-1 victory over the District 5 champion Conemaugh Township Indians on Tuesday night.

“Hats off to them but I couldn’t be prouder of my girls, they never give up,” Indians’ coach Angie Berzonski said. 

“We had a great season and a lot to be proud of this year.”

It was all Bulldogs for the opening 5 minutes of the contest, but after an early attempt from distance went sailing high over the goal, it was the Indians who flipped possession and nearly took the lead off two prime scoring opportunities from directly in front of goal.

First it was Makallie Giffin making a perfect run to get on the end of a long pass and get a clean look at goal from about 15 yards out. Giffin wound up to shoot but mishit her shot attempt and it trickled wide past Bulldogs goalkeeper Morgan Swab.

Just seconds after Giffin’s initial scoring chance, teammate Alyssa Nail had a clear look from inside the penalty area and took a clean strike on goal but right at Swab who absorbed the shot and ended the threat.

“We had our opportunities and we were really close many times,” Berzonski said. “I think if one of those early ones goes in it could tip the momentum and that would’ve been helpful.”

After surviving the Indians onslaught, the Bulldogs found their game once again and jumped in front with a pair of successive tallied just past the midway point of the first half. 

Mohrbacher made a slick play to get around an Indians defender and slotted home a shot past goalkeeper Chloe Shaulis for a 1-0 Bulldogs advantage.

Less than 3 minutes later, the Bulldogs advantage was doubled courtesy of Jaylynn Falk. 

Off a rebound attempt deep in the penalty area, Falk collected the loose ball and slotted a shot into the top of the goal and just like that the lead was 2-0.

Trailing by a pair did not phase the Indians in the slightest, and they pushed back in a big way looking to get back into the contest. Nail appeared to cut the deficit in half with a long range shot that bounced off the post and in, but the goal was waived off immediately for a handling call and the Bulldogs’ lead remained intact.

Still down two after the disallowed goal, the Indians kept fighting but kept coming up empty on the scoresheet. Scoring opportunities came and went for the Indians but they still had a goose egg in the goal column. Eventually the missed chances caught up with the District 5 champions, and the Bulldogs staved off the threat and pushed back with a third goal.

Mohrbacher tallied for a second time on the evening, taking a pass a creating space on her own to open up a shooting lane where she was able to calmly strike the ball and slide it beneath a diving Shaulis to put the Bulldogs in front 3-0 approaching halftime.

“She’s been doing it all season,” Bulldogs coach Colin Williams said of his star striker. 

“You put Renae in one-on-ones she’s hard to stop.”

With a 3-0 lead after one half of play, the second half was about closing down the game for the Bulldogs. Utilizing a more defensive approach with the big lead, the Bulldogs shut down any Indians offensive threat.

Already with a pair of goals to her credit, Mohrbacher completed the hat trick in the second half with a great individual effort. Maneuvering in a tight space on the top of the penalty area, Mohrbacher created enough space to get off a turning shot that curled into the net. Minutes later, the Bulldogs’ offensive star added her final two tallies.

Morgan Sleek scored a consolation goal for the Indians in the 80th minute to set the final.

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