St. Marys squeezes by with 1-goal win

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy girls' soccer team fell to 0-2 with a 1-0 loss to the St. Marys girls Thursday afternoon in Punxsutawney.

St. Marys' Caley Keister was the only goal-scorer in the contest.

According the head coach Kevin Hughes, his girls just needed a bit more intensity for the duration.

The Lady Chucks looked strong for the last 20 minutes of the game, but he knows he'll need all 80 minutes out of them as the season goes on.

"We've come out before, like some teams do," he said. "We got physical — a couple of cases, too physical — but we didn't bring the intensity, and we didn't check to the ball."

On a good note, Hughes said his girls were able to take the positives from Thurs-day's game, and they didn't end up getting too down on themselves.

Punxsy's defense looked strong throughout the majority of the game — although it allowed a few breakaways and took advantage of some lucky bounces.

St. Marys wasn't the only team that managed a few scoring opportunities, though.

"We had a few close calls that I thought, for sure, we would score, but we just came up short," Hughes said.

Punxsy's defensive performance was accented by goaltender Kelsey Young, who Hughes said "did well for us in the net tonight," and a position change for Ashley Bacha, who moved to a defensive position.

"Putting Ashley back on defense helped," Hughes said. "Her ability to clear the ball for us is something we've been missing. I'm not sure how comfortable she is there, but they didn't score while she was back there, and her ability to clear will add another dimension for us."

Another player that impressed Hughes was Sierra Milton, who Hughes said "worked the ball well across the field tonight."

Hughes also saw a good sign in the fact that he was able to rotate some girls off the bench and not see much, if any, drop-off between squads.

"We had a chance tonight to get some other girls some time," he said. "It's good to see that we have more than 11 players. We won't make it at this level if we just have to play with 11 each game."

Despite the close score and the many positives, Hughes also admitted his team needed to improve on a few things, the first of which is its traps.

"They were kind of weak today," he said. "We'll definitely work on some trapping and work on attacking more from the wings. The corners have been open almost every game, so even if we come to the wing and come back in, just to bring their defense out of the middle, that will free us up to go back in and attack."

And, in a game where sustaining energy and intensity is important, Hughes also admits the Lady Chucks will continue to work on their early season cardiovascular conditioning.

"We still need to keep working on some cardio," he said. "When the girls get tired, they seem to feel more pressure than there actually is on them, and they're making passes quicker than they need to."

Punxsy will head back to the practice field for the next few days before meeting difficult district opponent DuBois Monday.