Franklin Regional buckles down, makes early goal stand up in win over Penn-Trafford

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Wednesday, August 31, 2022 | 11:03 PM


Get a goal on the board early, possess the ball and make defensive stops.

Franklin Regional checked all three boxes in its Section 3-3A opener Wednesday night at Penn-Trafford.

“We’re going to play a lot of games this way,” Panthers coach Scott Arnold said.

Senior winger Natalie Ribar scored off a direct kick from deep in the far corner of the end zone in the fourth minute and the Panthers (2-0, 1-0) held their ground the rest of the way for a 1-0 victory, despite some quality scoring chances from Penn-Trafford (1-1, 1-1), which moved down from Class 4A this season.

“We would have liked to have added a second goal there, but our girls played well,” Arnold said. “Getting that early goal is really helpful. We’re not a team that is going to concede a lot of goals.”

Sophomore defender Eden Williams sent the kick into a crowd in front of the net, and Ribar toed it and zinged a shot right of diving Warriors keeper Rease Solomon for a 1-0 lead.

“We couldn’t play like we do without our defense,” Ribar said. “It’s my first year playing varsity. It was so nerve-racking having a 1-0 lead for almost the entire game. P-T came out ready to play.”

Penn-Trafford pressed down the stretch in the second half and as a result managed two corner kicks and a free kick inside the final minute. But the Panthers and junior keeper Aris Lamanna (3 saves) did not waver.

“Their corner kick was a letdown for us, but I thought we really battled,” Penn-Trafford coach Jimmy Mastroianni said. “Our girls fought hard until the end. Franklin Regional is a tough team.”

Franklin Regional subbed frequently, using 17 girls, including four forwards.

Arnold said Ribar earned her goal, the Panthers’ second on a set piece this season. Sophomore Abby Paterline scored on a penalty kick in a 4-0 win over Kiski Area in the season opener.

Paterline, who wore two different shoes against Penn-Trafford, also contributed to the win.

“Natalie is a player you want to find a role for,” Arnold said. “She works so hard every day at practice.”

Penn-Trafford, which had five shots on net, played four of its nine freshmen.

The teams used the game as a platform to raise money for 6-year-old Liam Lavelle, who has had multiple surgeries following a lawnmower accident in July that resulted in the amputation of his feet.

Proceeds from the “Kick It For A Cause” will go to the family.

Lavelle has earned the nickname “The Lion.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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