Planets can't find net in loss
Laker defense strong enough to stymie Mars
Butler Eagle
Written by:
November 14, 2012

FRANKLIN — Scoring enough goals was rarely a problem for the Mars girls soccer team this fall.

But despite numerous opportunities in Saturday's PIAA Class AA quarterfinal playoff against Mercyhurst Prep, the Planets could not find the net in a 1-0 loss at Franklin High School.

Mars (20-2-1) earned seven corner kicks in the game and executed a number of well-timed centering passes in front of Laker goalkeeper Elyza Pilatowski, but none yielded the desired result.

The Lakers (18-4), however, were able to put one shot past Mars goalie Sarah Dailey.

With just less than 29 minutes remaining in the second half, Mercyhurst sophomore forward Kyla Dwyer took a centering pass off from the left of the Planet goal. Midfielder Sarah Kaiser received the ball just yards in front of the net and was able to elude a Mars defender long enough to put a shot past Dailey and inside the left post.

“It seemed that we had the right body positioning and goalie positioning to defend the play,” said Mars coach Blair Gerlach. “It almost looked like the ball took a crazy spin.”

“We had to attack today, we talked about it before the game,” said Lakers coach Doug Bakka. “We wanted to get a strong offensive push and for the most part, we did that.”

The Planets' late scoring chances included a free kick from senior Beth Perri that she put in play 29 yards from the goal. As the ball sailed toward the net, Mars' Amber Fichter and Shaelyn O'Connor both charged forward, but the ball richocheted off the hands of Pilatowski, who had to jump in the air to make the save. The result was a corner kick for the Planets, but Perri's boot smacked off the football goalpost, giving the Lakers a goal kick.

With less than four minutes left, Fichter jumped above a defender 8 yards in front of the net, but her header went just left of the goal.

“I thought we had some should-have scored chances,” Gerlach said, “but on some days, you just can't seem to find the net.”

Pilatowski made eight saves in the win, including four in the first 13 minutes of the second half, during which the Planets' offensive push was very strong.

“She has started all year for us,” Bakka said of his goalie. “She's had some growing pains, but has really grown up. She is a tall, strong girl and is able to go up and take the ball out of the air.”

Dailey stopped seven shots for the Planets.

The two programs have taken turns ending each other's season for three consecutive years. In 2010, the Lakers handed Mars its only loss of the season in the PIAA semifinals.

Last year, Mars beat Mercyhurst in the first round of the PIAA tournament.

“These two teams know each other so well,” said Gerlach. “It's not a question of if we'd face them in the state playoffs, but when. Hats off to them, they played a nice game.”

Playing their last game for Mars were seniors Brittney Wills, Jordyn White, Erica Schwab, Tricia Glavin, Caitlin Foltz, Lea Eidenshink, Emily Diefenbacher and Beth Perri.

Since the start of the 2010 season, the Planets tallied three straight WPIAL titles, a state championship and put up a combined record of 69-3-2.

“We're losing experience, quality and leadership,” Gerlach said of this year's seniors, “but they also handed down a nice legacy. The girls coming back will work hard to walk in those footsteps.”