Plum girls blank TJ, advance to WPIAL semifinals

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Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 9:05 PM


Neither a steady rain nor Thomas Jefferson could prevent the Plum girls soccer team from advancing in the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs Thursday evening.

The undefeated Mustangs scored twice in the first half and added two more goals in the second half to post a 4-0 quarterfinal win, their third of the season against their section rival.

“The girls came out and played very well from the start against a pretty good TJ team,” Plum coach Jamie Stewart said. “When you think about having a semifinal game at home, that’s awesome.”

Plum moves into the 3A semifinals for the second year in a row and will take on No. 6 West Allegheny, a 2-0 winner over No. 3 Hampton on Thursday. The Mustangs and the Indians will play at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Plum.

Plum ran its record against TJ to 7-0 the past three years. Included in that streak were 4-1 and 1-0 wins in this year’s regular season.

“It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season,” Stewart said. “They battled us very hard here the first time and also at their place, and we knew it was going to be another good challenge.”

The shutout was the Mustangs’ seventh straight and 12th clean sheet overall this season.

Thomas Jefferson, in the WPIAL playoffs for the seventh year in a row and in the quarterfinals for the fourth time in five seasons, concludes its season at 14-3-1.

“Plum is such a good team. I give them tons of credit,” Jaguars coach Sean Richter said. “We knew we had to weather the storm tonight, and we just couldn’t. The game was kind of decided early. You can’t go down a couple of goals on this kind of team and hope to dig out of the hole.”

Plum gained an early scoring chance 1 minute, 24 seconds into the game. A Thomas Jefferson foul gave the Mustangs a free kick, but Gina Proviano’s boot from 20 yards sailed high of the goal.

Plum controlled the offense from the opening whistle and fired off four shots on Thomas Jefferson senior goalkeeper Maddison Sippey in the first eight minutes, but Sippey was up to the task with four saves.

The Mustangs kept pressing and broke through in the 10th minute as seniors Jamie Seneca and Gina Proviano connected for the game’s first goal. The goal was Proviano’s team-leading 18th of the season.

Plum made it 2-0 10 minutes later. This time, Proviano, on a corner kick, sailed the ball into the box to the left of the TJ goal, and Seneca delivered a header past Sippey.

“Those goals raised our confidence, and, at the same time, it kind of took theirs down,” Seneca said. “It raised all of our spirits to keep pushing and keep working.”

Thomas Jefferson gained a solid scoring chance with a free kick in the latter stages of the first half.

Junior midfielder Elana Kondos took the kick from 25 yards, and it was turned away by Plum keeper Erica Taylor. However, a Plum foul on the kick gave Kondos another chance.

Her second attempt, this one from 17 yards, deflected off the crossbar.

Plum got some insurance 7 minutes into the second half as sophomore Kaitlyn Killinger scored off an assist from freshman Ava Weleski.

Proviano capped the scoring with an unassisted goal in the 57th minute.

Plum outshot Thomas Jefferson, 12-4. Sippey made seven saves for the Jaguars.

“I thought TJ played very well and very aggressively the final five or six minutes of the first half,” Stewart said. “They really came at us. My message at the half was that we needed to come out and be ready for them to continue to play us tough in the second half. I told them to continue to play as hard as we did for most of the first half, and they did that.”

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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