At the end of the game, Ridgway had the win but the Lady Elkers faced some adversity on the way there.
Ridgway defeated Port Allegany 4-2 Wednesday afternoon at Francis S. Grandinetti Elementary School in a matchup after playing without two defensive starters for over 20 minutes in the first half.
Ridgway defenders Amanda Maddalena and Megan MacDonald had to leave the game within seconds of each other in the first half. Ridgway head coach Greg Maddalena said the team really stepped up when faced with a tough situation.
“I’m so proud,” coach Maddalena said. “I had two starting defenders, my stopper and sweeper, they went out. I had two people step up to the challenge. That’s huge in the varsity game. They know I don’t sub my defense until they’re hurt or want to come out. They stepped up to the challenge and they played this team and we put this team away. Each and every girl steps up to the challenge.”
“They’re so determined, they have the determination to win and get to that next level,” coach Maddalena said. “We’re doing that one game at a time.”
Ridgway sported players in different positions in the second half. Coach Maddalena credited his players for picking up the slack, including Olivia Cerroni who started as a defensive fullback for the Lady Elkers.
“I moved Danie Jo Dwyer from my midfield back to a defensive back. I moved Tracey (Ecklund) back from a defensive back to a sweeper,” coach Maddalena said. “I moved Ashley Imbrogno, I’ve been practicing with her on defense, she stepped in and played defense. Each and every girl works so hard for me at practice and it shows. I can’t be more proud of this team. Each and every one of them steps up to the challenge to win. No matter who I put in, they step up to the challenge.”
Port Allegany added to Ridgway’s troubles with a goal just over six minutes into the game on a defensive breakdown from Ridgway.
“We broke down, they broke us down for the first goal,” coach Maddalena said. “They won’t give up, they will never give up, that’s what I like about them. Through thick and thin, they’re always up for the challenge. They proved it to me.”
The 1-0 lead would not last long as Rhianon Fowler scored the first of her three goals with 28:24 left in the first half. Fowler was set up on the play by assists from Jenn Parker and Michelle Buhler.
Fowler was able to make a run in the middle of the field and bury the ball in the net for a 2-1 lead with 11:42 left in the half. Ridgway would have a 2-1 lead into halftime and had almost all of the possession in the last 10 minutes of the first half.
The domination of possession continued into the second half as Courtney Bush scored with 30:30 left in the second half off an assist from winger Abbie Lampman. Fowler completed her hat trick with 22:51 left in the game as she used a stepover move to get by the Port Allegany defender and in for a breakaway, which she calmly buried.
Port Allegany scored on a shot from about 30 yards away with 18:21 left in the half to keep the game competitive at 4-2 but could not get any closer.
“Every girl plays their position well, knows their position and finishes,” coach Maddalena said. “That’s all I can ask. I’m proud of the team as a whole. We won this game as a team. That is the game of soccer. There’s always one or two key players but it takes 11 to win in the game of soccer and that’s what we did.”
Ridgway (12-1) is at DuBois Central Catholic for a 4 p.m. matchup on Monday.
“We only play them once this year and they’re another good team,” coach Maddalena said. “It’ll be a challenge but we’ll be ready for them and move on. It’s one game at a time, I’m not looking ahead to playoffs right now. I’m looking at it one game at a time to position the team for playoffs. We’re 12-1 and every team is going to be up for us. I would be too. Everybody wants to beat one of the best teams in District 9. Right now, it’s between us, Karns City and Curwensville up top. Anything can happen, we have five games left.”