Playoff loss hard to handle after brilliant season for Bishop Canevin girls soccer

Sunday, November 1, 2020 | 11:01 AM

One and done.

It’s the beauty of the high school sports postseason. It’s also a painful reminder for all the qualifying teams that only one school is left at the end to raise the championship trophy.

The bitterness of a postseason loss is a little easier to swallow when a team is a long shot, a tournament dark horse that barely qualified for the postseason.

However, an early end for a section champion that didn’t lose all season and was on the short list of serious contenders can be a tough pill to swallow.

Such is the plight of the 2020 Bishop Canevin girls soccer team.

“Any time you lose a WPIAL playoff game, it is difficult no matter how it occurred,” Bishop Canevin coach Pat Egan said. “However, we did remind the girls that we had a great season, we had our chances to win, and we were very fortunate to even have a season given the concerns with the pandemic.”

Egan is a glass completely full kind of guy.

Bishop Canevin ended the regular season as Section 4-A champions with a 10-0-2 record in the section, 11-0-2 overall.

The Crusaders earned the No. 4 seed in the WPIAL Class A girls soccer playoffs but lost in the first round in an overtime shootout to Serra Catholic, 2-1.

“I believe our players worked very hard and created a lot of scoring opportunities,” Egan said. “The difference was our inability to finish, in particular, on breakaways. Of course, a lot of credit should be given to the Serra goalkeeper who made a lot of great saves.”

Junior Lauren Kirsch scored the lone Crusaders goal on a rebound off junior Ainsley Smith’s free kick.

The goal came three minutes after Serra Catholic had taken a 1-0 lead 11 minutes into the contest. It was only the fifth goal allowed all season by Bishop Canevin.

Serra Catholic’s Callie Cunningham scored in the seventh round of the shootout, which followed two scoreless overtime periods.

It was a sudden end to an outstanding season for Bishop Canevin, but it was one that was filled with plenty of highlights.

“Obviously, going undefeated and winning the section were great accomplishments,” Egan said. “Only giving up seven goals the whole season, including preseason and playoffs, is a testament to the strength and superb play of our defense, in particular our seniors Erin Egan, Sarah Barron, Abby Sysak and our goalie, Tori Legleitner.

The offense was led by Smith, who scored 13 goals and added 11 assists. Kirsch had 10 goals and six assists. It was the second year in a row the two combined for nearly 60% of the Crusaders offense.

Another highlight was a 10-game winning streak that Bishop Canevin ended the regular season with after starting the year 1-0-2.

“We were certainly playing very well, and the players really stayed focused when it was needed,” Egan said. “Like many teams, we had to deal with injuries during this time, but our defense stayed strong as it had the entire season, and we had some key players on offense that really started to click with one another down the stretch. All that being said, it truly was a team effort that kept the streak going.”

While the Crusaders could not carry that success into the postseason, many a championship run has come a year after a heartbreaking loss.

Egan is excited about what the Crusaders having coming back for the 2021 season.

“Hard not to be optimistic about having our leading scorers (Smith and Kirsch) returning to our team along with some talented underclassmen such as sophomores Josie Bochicchio, Ashley Lippold and Emma Sysak along with freshmen Maria Cicchino, Julianna Umalin, Madeline Dillon and Ashley Boehm who all really progressed well during this season,” he said.


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