Yough girls soccer scores impressive win over Mt. Pleasant

Monday, September 30, 2019 | 10:20 PM

When Yough played at Mt. Pleasant earlier in the girls soccer season, the visiting Cougars only led by one goal with three minutes to play. A couple of late scores polished off a three-goal victory.

“The score was not indicative of how close it was,” Yough coach Dann Appolonia said.

The score of the teams’ WPIAL Section 3-2A rematch Monday night at Cougar Mountain Stadium, on the other hand, was much more reflective: It was all Cougars.

No. 2 Yough rolled to a 5-0 victory for its sixth straight win and maintained its section lead, moving to 9-1 overall and 7-1 in secton.

Third-place Mt. Pleasant (8-3, 5-3) was limited shot-wise and played without Brooke Ulery, a Cleveland State commit, who has missed three games with an injury.

“We moved the ball really well tonight,” Appolonia said. “To get that first goal two minutes in was a release for our girls. When we got the second one, they felt more relaxed.”

An array of chances could have given the Cougars a greater advantage by halftime, but they were not able to cash in on several on-point set-ups from Justin Appolonia.

“That’s kind of been our M.O.,” Dann Appolonia said. “We get the opportunities, but we don’t finish. In the playoffs, those chances tend to diminish.”

Still, the goals came.

Yough struck first — early. On the Cougars’ first corner kick of the night, Natalie Vilchek crossed in front to a waiting Hadley Sleith, who buried the offer for a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

Sleith also is the kicker for the football team.

Nicky Veychek and McKenzie Pritts added first-half goals to give Yough a 3-0 lead by the break. Pritts added an assist.

“That’s the best they have looked against us in a long time,” Mt. Pleasant coach Josh Pajak said. “They play a simple style, but it can be fun to watch. They have more than a couple playmakers.”

Veychek scored in close while Pritts got behind the defense to create a scoring chance.

In the teams’ last meeting in Mt. Pleasant, Vilchek was injured when she collided with Vikings’ goalkeeper Tiffany Zelmore. Vilchek was taken by ambulance to the hospital, but X-rays on her leg were negative. She has played through the pain of a bruised right tibia.

Surprisingly, she has not missed a game.

“There’s a little bump on it,” she said.

Vilchek added some insurance against the Vikings with their fourth goal, her 11th of the year, with 22:58 to go in the second half.

She bent a corner kick to the far post and into the net to make it 4-0.

Vilchek felt some measure of redemption with the goal.

“I actually thought we had a little bit of a slow start,” Vilchek said. “But we got it going. We usually play hard against them. We kept it going.”

That was the second time Vilchek knocked in an unassisted set piece.

“I have that natural curve on the ball,” she said with a smile that arced like her kick.

Youngstown State recruit Justine Appolonia netted the final score for the Cougars, taking a nifty pass just inside the goal line from Hannah Biros and converting for her team-leading 18th score of the year.

Mt. Pleasant’s best chance came with 10 minutes, 40 seconds left on a shot from Carsyn Rivardo, but Cougars’ keeper Sara Krofcheck made a diving tip-save to keep the Vikings off the board and help prevent the team’s sixth shutout.

Krofcheck made four saves. Her counterpart, Tiffany Zelmore, had five stops.

Yough was missing two injured starters in Alexis Boyle and Madison Hodge. Haley Lauffer, just cleared to return from injury, played sparingly.

Mt. Pleasant plays at South Allegheny (2-10, 1-8) on Wednesday.

“It’s a five-game season now for us,” Pajak said. “We’ll bounce back. I think we’ll be OK.”

Yough plays at No. 1 South Park the same night. South Park (7-3, 5-1) has wins over Yough and Mt. Pleasant by scores of 2-1 and 7-0.

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

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