Southmoreland girls soccer uses second-half surge to roll past Mt. Pleasant

Tuesday, October 13, 2020 | 9:57 PM

Sitting on a precarious one-goal lead, Mt. Pleasant kept giving visiting Southmoreland chances early in the second half.

That is about the last thing a team wants to do against the upstart Scotties.

Sophomore forward Olivia Cernuto had a hat trick and an assist, and junior midfielder Taylor Klingensmith added two goals and two assists to power No. 4 Southmoreland past Mt. Pleasant, 5-2, on Tuesday night at Viking Stadium.

With playoff spots and the section title decided, Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland hoped to use their second Section 3-2A matchup of to stay sharp. Southmoreland doesn’t look like it has much work to do in that department.

The Scotties erupted in the second half.

Some halftime adjustments propelled the Scotties (11-1, 9-1), who watched an early 1-0 deficit fade in the rearview mirror as they dominated the second half to sweep the Vikings (6-4, 6-4).

“We wanted to free up Olivia, and we thought we could attack down the left flank,” said Southmoreland coach Josh Pajak, who used to coach Mt. Pleasant. “We moved (freshman) Mikayla (Slack), who is pretty fast up front, to try to play the ball out of the left and reverse the ball if we could and it worked.”

Southmoreland, which had an eight-game winning streak halted by Yough, 2-1, on Oct. 5, recently clinched its first section title since 2011 — and its fourth title overall.

Mt. Pleasant coach Rich Garland said the Vikings got away from a style that had been effective early.

“It’s an emotional game for the girls,” Garland said. “To change a team’s possession style like that was tough. It’s more my fault than theirs.”

It didn’t take Mt. Pleasant long to open the scoring, but shots were limited for most of the first half after a quick goal.

Senior midfielder MacKenzie Leeder, a Duquesne recruit, cut to the center of the net, took a dump off from junior forward Carsyn Rivardo and chipped it in pasy Kaylee Keys for a 1-0 lead just 1 minute, 6 seconds after kickoff.

“It was a weird play,” Pajak said. “We weren’t organized, and they capitalized. You can’t leave Leeder free anywhere near the box.”

Southmoreland tilted the field after the break.

“It was nice to make the adjustment at halftime and execute,” Pajak said. “I like the fact that we were able to come back.”

The Scotties tied it with 30:46 left in the second half on a wide shot by Klingensmith, who scooted a shot past Jenna Piper to make it 1-1.

But Cernuto, given several touches early in the second half, finally struck — twice in less than a minute — to put the Scotties in command.

“At halftime, we put our heads together and we figured out what we were doing wrong,” said Cernuto, who has 31 goals. “We needed to settle down and play our game. “

The fast-rising sophomore kicked in a deflection off Piper with 25:45 left for a 2-1 advantage, then gave the Scotties a 3-1 lead with 25:19 remaining on a 15-yard blast.

Klingensmith added her second score with 14:25 to play.

“In the second half, we were able to find feet more and we weren’t just kicking the ball directly,” Cernuto said. “That helped us in the end.”

Cernuto got loose again and dribbled left before cutting back to beat Piper to make it 5-1.

Riley Gesinski scored for Mt. Pleasant with about 10 seconds left.

Sophomore Tatum Lucero added two assists for Southmoreland.

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

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