Plum races past Latrobe in matchup of top girls soccer teams in Class 3A

Wednesday, September 7, 2022 | 11:00 PM

Plum came out like a sprinter in the fastest heat.

Latrobe had trouble getting off the starting block.

In a showdown of ranked girls soccer teams from Section 3-3A, No. 3 Plum showcased its speed, working up a nice lather offensively early on the way to a 4-2 victory over No. 4 Latrobe on Wednesday night at Mustang Stadium.

“Our gameplan was to come out and defend, be aware of 10 (Robin Reilly) and 11 (Ella Bulava),” Plum coach Jamie Stewart said. “And then attack.”

And the Mustangs did attack, early and often, sending a number of uncontested shots at Wildcats senior goalkeeper Sofia DeCerb, who was making her first start of the season as she returned from a shoulder injury.

The Mustangs scored on breakaways, crosses and in the flow of play and had the look of a polished team that won 21 games last year made the WPIAL final and PIAA semifinals.

Latrobe is expected to rival teams such as Plum, but this matchup was more of a learning experience than a statement game for the Wildcats, who had trouble getting quality looks on frame.

“They do have a lot of speed,” Latrobe coach Jamie Morrison said. “We have to do a better job. They play a high-rotating game and we didn’t adjust. They had us playing their game.”

Plum (3-0, 3-0), which continuously rekindled possessions, raced to a 2-0 lead and Latrobe (1-1-1, 1-1), which moved to Class 3A this season from 4A, never could run down the Mustangs.

Senior forward Annabel Arhin had two goals and an assist, and senior Camryn Rogers added a goal and an assist for Plum.

Arhin gave Plum an early 1-0 lead when she scored on a breakaway in the fourth minute. It was the first shot DeCerb faced all season. The Mustangs scored on the first three shots they ripped at DeCerb.

“We can’t put (DeCerb) in that situation to begin with,” Morrison said.

A heads-up play by Rogers made it 2-0 at 23:23 of the first half, as she bumped in a loose ball after DeCerb came out to defend and left the door open.

Latrobe cut the deficit in half, but the rally was brief.

Sophomore Ava Yurko sank a 40-yard free kick to make it 2-1 five minutes later.

Yurko’s shot was perfect, high and soft, and it landed gently over the head of Plum sophomore goalkeeper Makenna Anderson.

But just when it looked like Latrobe had found its footing, Plum responded with a gut punch.

Arhin netted her second goal later in the half, taking a well-timed cross from Rogers to make it 3-1.

“We wanted to get the tempo from the start,” Stewart said. “Our girls were hyped up for this and they play well (at home). I was really pleased with the play of our midfield tonight.”

Latrobe, which also had sophomore Maddy Petruzzi back from an ankle injury to boost the midfield, was outshot, 11-5.

Plum maintained command with another score early in the second half on a strike from Pitt commit Kaitlyn Killinger to make it 4-1.

The Mustangs played three goalkeepers, including a pair of freshmen in Malayna Smith and Samantha Fields, and showed depth in such a lofty matchup.

“It takes 11 — 11 on the same page,” Stewart said. “We did a nice job possessing the ball out of the back and getting chances up top.

“It’s a nice win, but it’s early. Latrobe is a very good team and we know they will be ready for us when we play them again.”

Junior defender Regan Reilly had Latrobe’s second goal with 6:39 to play.

“Plum found their rhythm and controlled the game,” Morrison said. “I don’t want to make any excuses. We had some girls getting back from injuries. But we need to take care of our responsibilities. We have to reset.”

DeCerb, who came crashing down on her shoulder while diving to make a stop in the second half, had six saves. Morrison said she hoped DeCerb would be all right.

A number of the girls from both teams play cup soccer together.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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