Butler girls net playoff victory
Golden Tornado soccer team tops P-T, 4-1, for program's 1st postseason win in 15 years
Chloe Weiland, left, scored two goals and goalkeeper Paige Miller made five saves Saturday in Butler's 4-1 win over Penn-Trafford. The win was the Golden Tornado's first WPIAL playoff victory in 15 years.
DEREK PYDA/ BUTLER EAGLE
WEXFORD — Butler's girls soccer team could've been swept away by the tide of momentum created when defending WPIAL champion Penn-Trafford scored less than four minutes into Saturday's Class 4A first-round playoff game.
Instead, the Golden Tornado soon turned the tables on the Warriors and spent the vast majority of the afternoon as aggressors while earning a 4-1 victory at North Allegheny's Newman Stadium.
Butler (11-5-2) will face third-seeded Peters Township in a quarterfinal Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
Saturday's win marked Butler's first postseason victory since the program made a run to the state championship game in 2003.
“Penn-Trafford's strength is in the center-midfield,” said Butler coach Steve Perri. “They are very busy there, always on the ball. One of our strengths is our play on the perimeter, so our focus was to get the ball to the edge.”
The Warriors (12-5) gained the early advantage when a deflected shot bounced to senior midfielder Alexis Garia, who booted a shot from 15 yards in front of the net past Butler goalkeeper Paige Miller.
It was the first shot on goal of the game, but Butler's confidence was not shaken.
“We've been down before this season, against Seneca Valley and North Allegheny,” said Perri. “We came back in both of those games. Our girls didn't blink today.”
What the Tornado did do was begin to apply consistent pressure on Penn-Trafford's net. It produced a shot from Chloe Weiland that was stopped by a diving save from Warriors' keeper Megan Giesey in the 20th minute.
Moments later, Weiland got a second chance. She put her foot into a shot 22 yards from the net. This time, the freshman wasn't denied and the game was tied at 1.
That's where the score remained for the rest of the first half, though Butler had opportunities to take the lead.
In the 26th minute, Giesey punched the ball out of play after jumping to reach a shot from McKenna Robinson. The sequence earned for Butler a corner kick and soon after, Taylor Leech's attempt sailed just wide of the net.
In the 36th minute, Giesey came up big again, diving to stop a shot from Aidyn Trettel.
Butler's attack was controlling the game. The only thing missing for the Tornado was the lead, but sophomore Gabby Boden was about to take care of that.
Less than a minute into the second half, she took a pass from Robinson and headed in a second goal for a 2-1 edge.
Instead of simply trying to protect their lead, the Tornado worked to build on it.
“We didn't let it (lead) go to our heads,” Weiland said. “We had to work to keep control of the game. We were really fast on the counter-attack today and I thought that was key for us.”
Butler earned four corner kicks in the span of 10 minutes, but each time was denied. Following a free kick in the 61st minute, Weiland scored for the second time.
When Penn-Trafford did mount a charge, it was thwarted by either Butler's defense or stopped by Miller, who made five saves on the day. Her aggressive play forced Gina Sarnelli to rush a shot in the 64th minute. The attempt was just off the mark and resulted in a goal kick.
With just under 11 minutes left, the Warriors were victims of an own-goal thanks to pressure applied by a host of Butler players, including Alyson Holt, who was credited with the score.
The Warriors managed just one corner kick the entire game. Perri lauded the play of his back line — Stephanie Adkisson, Ali Altman, Holt and Leech.
“As a group, they played very well,” he said.
“We never did recoup after Butler scored their first goal,” said Warriors' coach Jackie Bartko. “Butler is a good team. They got more opportunities today than we did and they finished. I wish them well.”
Giesey stopped eight shots for the Warriors.