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Stunner on The Beach: Oakland Catholic outlasts Belle Vernon with late equalizer and in shootout

Photo courtesy of Ed Thompson
WPIAL Girls Soccer: Class 3A First Round Playoff

FINAL:  Oakland Catholic 2, Belle Vernon 2

(Oakland Catholic advances, 5-3, on PKs)  

In a thrilling WPIAL Girls Class 3A first round playoff match that went to the limit after being tied 2-2 after 110 minutes of play, Oakland Catholic outlasted and stunned Belle Vernon to advance to the quarterfinal round on penalty kicks (5-3).

As thrilling as the penalty kick shootout was, this match may be long-remembered for a wild final minute of regulation which provided an incredible swing of emotions and momentum when Belle Vernon scored with just 55 seconds left as Izzy Laurita’s blast from beyond the box gave the hosts a 2-1 lead.

However, playing with a great sense of urgency, Oakland Catholic immediately set up a corner kick on the ensuing kickoff, then stunned the hosts as Gabi Folino bodied it in for the tying goal.

The goal was a mere 26 seconds after the BVA goal.

The match would go to overtime, where neither team could get the golden goal.

Oakland Catholic will now move on to take on top-seeded Mars in a rematch of the 2018 WPIAL 3A Final.


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This was a rematch from last years Class 3A Quarterfinals where the Leopards were victorious and advanced past the ladies from Oakland Catholic.

This year, as fate would have it, the 8 seed Leopards vs the 9 seed Eagles would clash in the opening round of the WPIAL playoffs.

Oakland Catholic would take the opening kick and work their way into the box and create the opportunity early for a shot and a goal just 51 seconds into the game by sophomore midfielder Mia Lowry.

Belle Vernon would settle in after the goal and possess the ball but never get a dangerous chance. Then the teams were content to play kickball for stretches.

When ever Belle Vernon seemed to get the ball and try and push forward, Oakland Catholic was quick to clear it away, stop the flow and get organized. 

Belle Vernon goalkeeper Victoria Rodriguez would come off the line effectively to grab two well placed corners out of the air, then made a terrific save in pushing a blast from the Michigan State commit Hannah Henn’s shot wide.

Oakland Catholic held onto the 1-0 lead at the half. 

The action in the second half came to a screeching halt when Hannah Niklason collided with a Belle Vernon player. She was down for an extended period of time as EMS were even called on to the field to look at her. Fortunately, Niklason was able to walk off the field under her own power.

At the restart, Belle Vernon was able to drive the ball into the box and the bouncing ball found its way to Freshman Katria Rhodes, who placed it in the wide-open net to tie the game 1-1.

Belle Vernon’s momentum would keep building as the 2nd half would continue after Farrah Reader came out and challenged Oakland Catholic’s keeper Deryn Bagley, who blocked the clearance to force a shot wide.

Oakland Catholic withstood the burst of energy from the BVA goal, creating a few chances in an open-ended affair that was bound to lead to some quality chances for both sides.

Belle Vernon’s Izzy Laurita scored the goal ahead goal with just 55 seconds left in the match.

To borrow a quote from renowned College Football personality Lee Corso, Oakland Catholic said “not so fast my friend”.

Off a corner with the clock ticking below 40 seconds, the ball would clear the outstretched hands of Rodriguez and Senior Gabi Folino was waiting on the back post to tie it and force overtime.

The first overtime saw some opportunities for both sides, but nothing of significant quality. 

The second overtime started with a bang and a great opportunity for Belle Vernon. 

As a ball got loose and away from Oakland Catholic’s Bagley in the box, rolled in front of the net. Remarkably the Leopards couldn’t react quick enough to get to it for the game-winner, as OC’s Hannah Henn won the footrace to clear the ball away. 

Oakland Catholic countered, with Emily Cooper coming down the right wing to blast a shot wide right.

With neither side able to solve the other in two periods of extra time, the game would come down to penalty kicks.

It was Bagley who would guess right on the third Belle Vernon attempt, Oakland Catholic sealed the win by converting on all five of its attempts.

In an amazing game played by both teams, it was Oakland Catholic who walked away victorious from a thriller on The Beach. 


Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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