Successful season flies by for Gateway girls soccer

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Sunday, November 1, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Gateway girls soccer coach Kelly Bender said the 2020 season for her players went by in a flash.

With the season already compacted because of the covid-19 pandemic, virus issues specific to the Gateway School District halted practices and games for the Gators in late September.

That created a busy and hectic 11-day stretch with seven games to close out the regular season.

Gateway’s run this fall came to a close Oct. 26 with a 6-0 loss to Plum in the first round of the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs.

“This was a tough loss because I don’t think we played up to our potential,” Bender said. “We proved ourselves in many ways this season, but I don’t think we showed that (against Plum).”

Despite the loss, Bender said she was proud of the way her team performed throughout the entire season and held its head high through numerous obstacles, including injuries to key players, to produce a trip to the playoffs for the third year in a row.

“I think there were many things the (returning) girls can take with them and learn from heading into next season,” she said.

Bender said her team played well in the second half against undefeated Plum in its playoff contest but didn’t play the way they needed to in the first half as the Mustangs controlled the offensive zone and took a 3-0 at the half.

“Plum is a very talented team with depth in every area,” Bender said. “Plum is a fast team, and it caught us off guard. They are dynamic up top.”

Senior goalkeeper Ava Weiss, an all-section pick this year, made 12 saves against the Mustangs.

“Ava has been an influential player on the team, and she took her leadership as a goalkeeper and a senior to the next level,” Bender said. “She was brave and courageous against Plum and made some really nice saves. That’s what she’s been doing the entire season.”

Gateway entered the playoff game without starters Jenna Shuman (junior) and Emily Mannion (sophomore). Senior Joelle Jenkins and junior Anna Reynolds, Bender said, played while nursing injuries and were not 100%.

“We relied on every player to get to the playoffs,” Bender said. “Our girls carried one another through it.”

Jenkins, a defender, also earned all-section honors along with juniors Addy Green and Kira Pavlik and sophomores Daniella Garner and Madi Jesih.

Pavlik and Garner led the team in scoring with six goals apiece.

Freshman Jada Settles made an impact with four goals in her first varsity season.

Gateway finished section play in fourth place with a 5-7 mark. Three of its seven section losses came by a one-goal margin, including an overtime defeat at the hands of section champion Hampton. Section runner-up Franklin Regional had to rally from a 3-1 deficit to get by the Gators in an Oct. 15 matchup.

“We have a lot coming back,” Bender said. “I think we can take all of the obstacles that we faced and can use them to build into next year. We are young and continue to see tons of potential. I am looking forward to seeing how this team continues to grow.”

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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