Late goal in OT vaults Seneca Valley into PIAA quarterfinals for 3rd straight season
When it really mattered, Seneca Valley senior Kelsey O’Connor was there to pick up her team.
The WPIAL Class AAA champions advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals after O’Connor scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Penn-Trafford at North Allegheny, including the game-winner with 1:07 left in overtime.
“It feels like it has been awhile since I got one in,” O’Connor said. “To get one when it really counts is awesome. Doing it for your team feels really good.”
The win came eight days after the Raiders (23-0) captured a 2-1 win over Penn-Trafford in the WPIAL semifinals that ended in a shootout — Seneca Valley outscored Penn-Trafford, 3-1, in penalty kicks for that win.
“They look just like us,” Seneca Valley coach Dave Sylvester said. “They are good defensively and have some speed on the outside. They have good skill players in the midfield. It is kind of like playing yourself. I am glad we got through this one.”
After a scoreless first half, the Warriors (19-3-1) took a 1-0 lead with 24:19 to play in regulation.
Toledo recruit Italia Biondi connected on a shot from 30 yards out that went over the hands of Seneca Valley goalie Jessica Neill.
But the Raiders responded seven minutes later. O’Connor collected the ball in front of the Penn-Trafford goal and buried the ball in the back of the net.
“That was big,” Penn-Trafford coach Rick Nese said. “You could just tell the game changed. We were confident and going at them. We changed up our formation a bit and knew how to have success against them. When they scored that one goal we had a breakdown, and they have the players that can take advantage of that.”
It was Penn-Trafford’s first appearance in the PIAA playoffs since 2011.
The Warriors finished the season with only one loss in regulation.
“When we go down, we go down fighting,” Nese said. “I feel there were a few breakdowns that could have went our way. But I am proud of the way this team battled and fought.”
The win advanced Seneca Valley to its third straight appearance in the PIAA quarterfinals and moved the squad one step closer to its ultimate goal.
“We have a checklist of the goals we want to reach,” O’Connor said. “Next one is a state title. To be able to push through and be with this group of girls my senior year is fantastic.”
Seneca Valley will play Central Bucks East — a 2-1 winner over Ephrata in the first round — in the Class AAA quarterfinals Saturday at a time and site to be determined.