Burrell bounces back from first loss, shuts out rival Freeport

Monday, October 5, 2020 | 10:13 PM

The Burrell girls soccer team saw a 20-game Section 2-AA unbeaten streak come to an end Saturday with a loss at Shady Side Academy.

But the Bucs were able to bounce back in winning fashion Monday with a 3-0 victory over Freeport on the new turf at Burrell’s Buccaneers Stadium.

“Shady Side is a great team, no doubt about it,” Bucs head coach Frank Nesko said. “They pushed us to our limit and beyond. The result didn’t go the way we wanted, so it was really important to come out (Monday) and play the way we play soccer. I thought the girls did that.”

Burrell, 5-1 overall and in section play, scored a goal in the first half and two more in the second as it improved to 5-0-1 over its last six against the Yellowjackets. The Bucs won the first meeting of the season by a 4-0 count Sept. 17.

It was Burrell’s first home game of the season after playing its first five on the road.

“Being able to play at home again, especially for the seniors and it being our last year, is a great feeling,” said senior Jordyn Kowalkowski, who gave the Bucs some insurance with a goal off an assist from freshman Grace Nesko five minutes into the second half.

“It is so much different playing on this turf. Our whole game improves having the smooth surface. This was a really good way to start the second half of the season. I am excited.”

The Bucs broke through in the latter stages of the first half.

Freshman Leah Brockett took control of the ball at 30 yards off a through ball from Nesko and dribbled in while being trailed by a pair of Freeport defenders. She would not be denied and deposited the ball in the right side of the Yellowjackets net for the goal with 5:52 left until halftime.

It was Burrell’s first shot on goal of the game.

“For some of the first half, I think we still had Saturday in our legs and even in our heads, to be honest with you,” Frank Nesko said. “We couldn’t generate much offense. We were a little hesitant at the start. When that goal went in, we knew we could relax, take a breath and play the soccer we know how to play.”

Freshman Tessa Mathabel capped the scoring with 6:10 left in regulation off an assist from Kowalkowski.

Sophomore keeper Ali Hughes made eight saves to help secure the shutout. Junior Maddie Zarichnak made three saves for Freeport.

Freeport had a solid opportunity for a goal with 23 minutes left in the first half as sophomore midfielder Crystal Zembrzuski unleashed an unobstructed shot from about 35 yards. Hughes juggled her initial attempt at the save but was able to keep the ball out of her net.

Yellowjackets junior midfielder Emma Check delivered a similar shot at the 15:30 mark that was hauled in by Hughes.

“The girls created a lot of chances and made some nice plays through the middle and sending the ball wide,” Freeport coach Joe Treglia said. “We just couldn’t finish tonight and put one behind the goalie.”

Frank Nesko said that senior defender Annie Weimer was a stabilizing force over the first 15 to 20 minutes of the first half and kept Burrell in the game.

“She was a rock, and we needed her back there,” Frank Nesko said.

Burrell hosts Shady Side in the return match Wednesday.

“We have to be able to compete with them,” Frank Nesko said. “We plan to play them two more times this year.”

Freeport (2-3-1, 2-3) hopes to bounce back as it travels to section rival Deer Lakes on Wednesday for a rematch of a 5-2 win over the Lancers on Sept. 21.

“The girls need to have a short memory and put this one behind them,” Treglia said. “Tomorrow we refocus. We always tell the girls to look forward and not behind. Hopefully, we can get back on the winning track and take it from there.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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