Gateway girls soccer finding offensive rhythm in early going
Sunday, September 17, 2023 | 11:01 AM
Gateway girls soccer coach Caleb Kyper said his players were a little shell-shocked after a 6-0 loss to Plum, a 2022 WPIAL semifinalist and PIAA qualifier, in the season and Section 3-3A opener Aug. 28.
The Gators had a quick turnaround against Penn Hills just two days later, and Kyper said the affects from the match with the Mustangs still lingered.
“We were on our heels a little bit to start the game,” Kyper said.
But as the game went on, he said the team’s confidence started to return.
“We were still playing very direct and predictable offensively,” Kyper said.
“At halftime, we talked about building possession through the midfield and simplifying the game a little with composure. The girls responded with a very solid second half by doing just that. They moved the ball well, connected passes, used the width of the field, and ultimately came away with a win that continued the growth as a team.”
The 3-0 victory was fueled by a pair of goals from junior forward Hayden Price and a goal and an assist from sophomore midfielder/forward Meghan Marsh.
Sophomore midfielder Peyton Kyper added an assist in the win.
The defense rose to the occasion against both the Panthers and Penn-Trafford, but the offense was stymied in a pair of 1-0 losses that put the Gators at 1-3, both overall and in the section.
Against Franklin Regional, the Panthers scored the only goal with 6:40 left in the second half as a shot from Abby Paterline at the top of the 18 landed in the upper right corner of the net past an extended Gateway senior keeper Jada Settles.
“We knew going into that game against Franklin Regional that it was going to be a grind defensively,” Coach Kyper said.
“They graduated a lot of talent last year, and like us, they are trying to find their offensive rhythm early on. Our girls came out strong and were able to create a couple offensive opportunities early but couldn’t quite execute. From there on out, through the first half and most of the second half, the game turned into the midfield battle we expected. Our defense stood tall, keeping Franklin off the scoreboard.
“Sometimes a great player (Paterline) just makes a great play, and that is exactly what happened. In the end, the team took some confidence away from the match, holding each other accountable and believing that we still have a lot of opportunities to keep improving the fine details of our game.”
The lone goal for Penn-Trafford against the Gators came off a corner-kick deflection on the back post at the 20-minute mark in the first half.
“After the FR game, the girls were pretty excited to get back in action,” Coach Kyper said.
“I am always impressed with their confidence as a group. I knew the girls wanted to take advantage of another opportunity to impact the early playoff race. Just as in the FR game, we came out strong in the first half against a strong and very deep P-T team, keeping most of the play between the 18s. Unfortunately for us, P-T took advantage early off of a quality corner kick to the back post to strike first.
“In the second half, I think we suffered from some tired legs and started sagging defensively, giving up a lot of possession to P-T which also made it hard to connect offensively through the midfield. But I am extremely proud of the way the girls battled to the final whistle. In the end, we just weren’t able to find the back of the net to equalize.”
Kyper said his players remained upbeat in practice throughout the week heading into a scheduled nonsection matchup Saturday with defending Section 2-2A champion Knoch at Gateway’s Antimarino Stadium.
Gateway was to return to section action Tuesday against Greensburg-Salem before Thursday’s section clash with Latrobe.
Kyper said Settles was banged up on an aggressive challenge near the end of the Penn-Trafford game, but he believed she would be ready to go against Knoch.
She owned 48 saves through four games.
“Jada has been playing great as a senior captain, at an extremely high level,” Kyper said.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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