PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsy Lady Chucks soccer team jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against Elk County Catholic Saturday morning in Punxsutawney, but after evening the score just before halftime, the Lady Crusaders scored three second-half goals to earn a 4-1 victory.
"We came out good, and I don't know if it was the field or what," Punxsy head coach Kevin Hughes said after the game. "We drew first blood, but then we just kind of lost it. I don't know if it was conditioning or what happened."
Punxsy applied early pressure right from the start, keeping the Lady Crusaders on their heels for the first four minutes, but in the fifth minute, ECC started to take over, and controlled zone time for the next several minutes.
In the eleventh minute, Elk County was able to make a rush at the net, but the pressure was relieved by Sarah Heitzenrater with a nice clear.
Two minutes later, the Lady Chucks found themselves deep in Elk County territory when a foul was committed, and the Lady Chucks were granted a free kick from 22 yards out.
Ashley Bacha took the free kick for Punxsy and fired it towards the net. After a deflection by an ECC defender, the ball was played across the goal box by Sydney Dubensky to Sierra Milton who stopped the ball, juked a defender and scored top shelf to give the Lady Chucks a 1-0 lead.
One minute later, the Lady Chucks threatened again, but ECC's keeper, Hannah Onink, came up big with a save to keep the lead at one goal.
ECC dominated much of the next 10 minutes in possession, but the Lady Chucks were able to keep them off the board.
In the 24th minute, Punxsy threatened again when Milton led Hunter Smith down the sideline with a pass.
ECC was able to knock the ball out of bounds to set up a Punxsy throw in from the corner, but ECC cleared the throw in before the Lady Chucks could put a shot on net.
Punxsy threatened once more in the half in the 30th minute when Kelsey Young threw a ball in from the sideline only to have it deflected back to her. Young then fired a shot on goal, but quick enough to stop the shot.
ECC managed some zone time in the last 10 minutes, and with seven minutes remaining in the half, ECC's Abby Petrosky scored on a penalty kick to even the score.
In the second half, ECC didn't wait long to strike, scoring on a well-executed corner kick by Abby Petrosky to Jena Struble, who headed the ball behind Punxsy keeper Aly Dickey.
ECC kept possession for the majority of the second half, and after several shots just wide, Lady Crusader Julia Sweeney deflected a shot past Dickey to give ECC some breathing room.
Five minutes later, Morgan Onink deflected a shot off a Punxsy defender and then off the post for ECC's fourth goal in the 12th minute of the second half.
In the 22nd minute of the second half, Morgan Onink finished off the scoring after banging home another perfectly placed corner by Petrosky.
Punxsy played hard to the final horn, applying pressure and almost cashing in on two opportunities after ECC's final goal.
First, Bacha sent a shot on goal which bounced around in front of the keeper, giving Dubensky and Courtney Huffman each a scoring chance, but neither ball snuck past Hannah Onink.
One minute later, Milton almost scored her second goal of the game when she chased down a cross-field pass and put a shot on goal with her left foot.
Unfortunately for the Lady Chucks, Milton's shot bounced off the post and the crossbar, but skipped out of bounds.
The Lady Crusaders benefited from their ability to clear the ball in the soggy conditions, as the entire game was played in the rain.
Hughes said the clears were definitely an advantage and an area in which his team will continue to develop.
"We need to work on our technique," he said. "The girls who have played a lot in their lifetime clear the ball fairly well, but we also have a lot of girls who are still learning the game, so that's something we'll continue to work on."
Punxsy's next game is scheduled for 4 p.m. today.