BROOKVILLE — The Punxsutawney Lady Chucks soccer squad traveled through the rain Tuesday to take on Brookville in the Lady Raiders' first game of the season. Despite a strong second half start, Punxsy gave up three goals in the second half and ultimately lost 4-1.
Punxsy head coach Kevin Hughes said there were many positives he saw throughout the game.
"I thought we possessed the ball well at times; we passed well," Hughes said. "I'm happy with the intensity most of the game, but ... we need to be moving for the full 80 minutes."
Punxsy and Brookville competed for possession for most of the first half, but Brookville began to really take over about halfway through the first.
Punxsy's keeper Kelsey Young had several great stops during the 23rd minute of the game, as the Lady Raiders had the ball hanging just inches in front of the left net corner.
Another impressive save came from Young during the 28th minute as she dove to the left to stop a shot by Brook-ville forward Julie Shields.
Brookville's penetrating force finally came to a head when Annie Amsler found the back of the net with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.
The Lady Chucks came out with intensity during the second half, and senior Sierra Milton scored less than five minutes in to tie the score at one.
But only ten minutes later, the Lady Raiders scored two goals in less than a minute. It began in the 54th minute when Brookville's Stephanie Wolfe scored from the middle, and just 45 seconds later, Sam Byerly scored from almost the exact same position. Both goals were assisted by midfielder Ali Ruffner.
After going down 3-1 with just over 20 minutes left on the clock, the Lady Chucks started to get discouraged, which has been a pattern for the Punxsy girls' soccer squad in past seasons.
"That's probably one of my biggest challenges, and that's one thing that we've worked on since the beginning of the season," Hughes said. "When they get down, they have a reputation of not staying together."
Hughes said he has a simple strategy for trying to keep his team motivated, but it doesn't always work.
"How do I do that? I just talk to them," he said. "I try to get them to realize it's only one game, it's early in the season, and we did play, I thought, exceptionally well at times."
Hughes said he also enlists the help of certain team leaders to try to keep the girls' heads in the game.
"Sydney Dubensky is our resident positive person," he said. "She does a good job of keeping the girls up."
But despite Hughes' best efforts, his team was unable to stage a comeback.
Hughes said one of the biggest things he wants to work on is Punxsy's ability to clear the ball. Despite Brookville's strong defense, Hughes said he thought the Lady Chucks could have broken through more often.
"Because we're unable to clear, and we have girls that are unable to send the balls long, we could've broken that if we could've just sent the ball long more often," Hughes said.
Punxsy will play its next match with a varsity start at 4 p.m. Thursday when it hosts St. Marys.