HUGHESTOWN – Pittston Area had been waiting for this opportunity, for its chance to play with the top dogs.
Undefeated and atop the Wyoming Valley Conference girls soccer standings, the high-powered Patriot offense came up short 4-2 to Berwick Wednesday in their first crack at one of the league's best teams.
"In the past, any time we faced Berwick or Dallas, we'd get blown out," Pittston Area coach Nicole Tieso said. "It's nice that we could step up with them even though we're still really young."
Berwick (6-0) took advantage of two first-half defensive miscues to take a 2-1 lead over the Patriots (7-1) going into the break.
The Bulldogs' Karleigh Hartman headed a ball on a Caty Davenport feed that went over the Pittston Area goalkeeper for the game's first goal in the 10th minute. Davenport produced the go-ahead goal two minutes before intermission when she rushed the net and beat the goalkeeper to the ball.
"The grounds a little wet from all of the rain," Berwick coach Paul DiPippa said. "We stressed following our shots and never giving up. Caty made a great hustle play, didn't give up on the ball there to score that second goal."
Keeping Pittston Area's Allie Barber off the scoring sheet proved to be a difficult task for the Bulldogs defense. The Patriot sophomore forward finished the game with a goal and an assist.
Barber engineered the Patriots' first scoring opportunity in the 29th minute. The speedster magnificently crossed a ball on the run to Madison Mimnaugh. Mimnaugh raced around Berwick goalkeeper Allison Reinhimer and found the back of the net with a right kick.
Barber put Pittston Area within a goal at 3-2 at the 74th mark on a breakaway feed from Carly Filipski.
"We just needed to finish more opportunities," Tieso said. "Two small mistakes on defense, and unfortunately they seized on the opportunity. We had ours too, and if we finish one or two of them, it would be a different game."
Berwick put the game away on a corner-kick opportunity that found the leg of Gabby Kishbaugh with a minute remaining. "We kept the ball on the ground," DiPippa said.
"That's a big difference. When we make passes on the ground, we play simple. Then good things happen to us."
Berwick's stingy defense puzzled the Patriots in the second half.
Pittston Area finished with just one corner-kick opportunity.
"Their defense was very solid," Tieso said. "They were back as far as getting numbers forward. We'd lose the ball and have them push back up. It was very difficult to get numbers back up."
The Bulldogs scored their third goal on a 15-yard rocket from Olivia Conklin.
Pittston Area's Jordan Cumbo finished with 13 saves. Berwick's Allison Rinehimer made nine stops.
First half: 1. BER, Karleigh Hartman (Caty Davenport), 10th min; 2. PA, Madison Mimnaugh (Allie Barber), 29th; 3. BER, Davenport, 38th
Second half: 1. BER, Olivia Conklin, 54th; 2. PA, Barber (Carly Filipski), 74th; 3. BER, Gabby Kishbaugh (Amanda O'Kane), 79th.
Shots: BER 25, PA 16; Saves: BER 9 (Allison Rinehimer), PA 13 (Jordan Cumbo); Corners: BER 2, PA 1.
Emma Sukowaski's hat trick propelled visiting Coughlin to a victory over Wyoming Area.
Samantha Acacio scored for the Warriors.
First half: 1. COU Emma Sukowaski (Mary Tona) 23rd min; 2. COU Sukowaski (Nora Fazzi) 38th; Second half: 1. COU Sukowaski 47th; 2. WA Samantha Acacio 53rd
Shots: COU 10, WA 3; Saves: COU 2 (Jasmine Baretto), WA 7 (Jordan Chiavacci); Corners: COU 6, WA 6.
Lily Williams posted a goal and an assist in Wyoming Seminary's win on the road against Nanticoke.
Brittany Sugalski scored for the Trojans.
Second half: 1. SEM Vicky Morrison 54th min; 2. NAN Brittany Sugalski 64th; 3. SEM Lily Williams (Brittany Williams) 69th; 4. SEM Beth Carpenter (L. Williams) 84th
Shots: SEM 6, NAN 11; Saves: SEM 10 (Ally Yuscavage), NAN 3 (Shelby Divers); Corners: SEM 6, NAN 2.