Mars girls soccer team falls
Eventually the Mars girls soccer team was going to encounter a challenge.
After winning its first six playoff games by a combined score of 38-0, Mars ran into a team equally as dominant and dropped a 3-0 decision to Mercyhurst Prep on Tuesday night in a PIAA Class AA semifinal at Neshannock.
Mercyhurst Prep, which advanced to Friday’s state final opposite South Park, has now outscored its six foes this postseason, 31-0. In 24 games overall, the Lakers (21-0-3) have piled up a 179-13 advantage in scoring.
“We haven’t played a team that tough the whole season,” said senior Alanna Haefner, who helped Mars outscore its first 24 opponents, 169-7. “I wouldn’t say we were shocked, but it’s hard to prepare yourself when you haven’t played against someone like that.”
Midfielder Kaylin Akerly scored all three goals for the Lakers, the first on a beautifully executed header following a corner kick in the game’s 10th minute.
That goal snapped a 12-game shutout streak for the Planets and marked the first time they trailed all season, a stretch that helped Mars (24-1) capture its first WPIAL Class AA championship since 2000 earlier this month.
After weathering the early storm, though, Mars started to consistently generate scoring chances.
Freshman Karli Paracca nearly pulled the Planets even in the 33rd minute, but her long drive clanked off the upper-right elbow of the goal.
Haefner had a another chance on a header in the 52nd minute — until Erin Wienczkowski from got her head on the ball and knocked it out of danger, an outstanding defensive play.
Even though Mars did its best to press the issue, Akerly struck in the 67th and 72nd minutes to push the game out of reach.
“I’m proud of how far we’ve come and the statement that we made doing it, but it’s sad that it comes down to this,” said senior Dana Wonderly. “Especially when we know that this was a game we could have won.”