RIDGWAY — Labeled as the underdog heading into Tuesday's playoff game may have been an advantage for the Lady Raiders. Keeping focused and playing hard for the full 80 minutes proved to be the key, and Brookville advanced to the District IX Class A semi-finals after a 1-0 shutout victory over the Lady Elkers of Ridgway.
"Like I told my girls after the game, I'm not sure that maybe the best team won, but I know that the team that had the most heart did today," Lady Raiders head coach Chip Mason said. "I was very happy with the effort they put forth."
Ridgway had the slight edge in shots, putting up four to Brookville's three, but the Lady Raiders reigned supreme in the only category that mattered.
The goal came on the only shot of the first half for the Lady Raiders. Sophomore Michelle Crissman came flying up the right wing; she took a shot, which hit the post and bounced back.
Crissman retrieved her own rebound and made a quick pass to freshman Brenna Dworek, who used her left foot to sail the ball over the keeper's hands.
It was only Dworek's second goal of the season, and it came at the perfect time.
"It was right after one of our leaders got hurt, Ashley Wolfe," Mason said. "We seemed to rebound quickly after somebody goes down, and I thought it was a nice push. It was just good teamwork, and they found a way to get it."
Ali Ruffner also had a splendid chance for the Lady Raiders, but she just hit the left side of the net, and the score remained 1-0 until the end of the first half.
Throughout most of the game, Brookville played a more run-and-gun style, breaking out on the outside wings, hoping to give its strikers some chances at the net. Mason said this game play was a strategy based on the field conditions.
"The middle of the field (was) just absolutely atrocious; we knew we had to play on the outsides," Mason said. "That's what we worked on: Not carrying down through the middle, getting outside, giving Annie (Amsler) and Lanae (Newsome) a chance to carry the ball and spread the field, and I thought they did very adequate at that."
The Lady Raiders also reverted back to their heavy defensive style, which has carried them through much of the season.
Mason said he was not surprised the game was such a low-scoring one.
"If we could hold them off, we thought that it could be a 1-0 or 2-1 game," Mason said. "That's the way we win games, if we do win them."
Ridgway's best opportunity came in the middle of the second half when the Lady Elkers were consistently deep in their offensive zone for several minutes. Ridgway's Amanda Maddalena came down the wing and shot the ball to the left side of the net, where Brookville keeper Madi Hill made a long dive for the save.
Mason said he was most pleased with the effort the Lady Raiders showed in a competitive game against a team that may have been considered the favorites.
"I give a lot of credit to Ridgway; (Ridgway head coach Greg Maddalena) had his girls ready to play," Mason said. "(Our girls) did step up, and they've had a great season this year."
The Lady Raiders will move on to the semi-finals. Brookville will play Curwensville Tuesday at a neutral site with the time and place to be decided.