Sacred Heart is moving on. A nail-biting 1-0 victory over fifth-seeded St. Francis Prep Wednesday in the CHSAA Class AA girls soccer play-in game propelled the fourth-seeded Lady Spartans to a semifinal matchup with top-seeded St. Anthony's at 3 p.m. Friday.
Senior Brianna Coyle broke a scoreless tie with six minutes remaining, off an assist from Hayley Oliviera. Oliviera started the sequence that ended in the lone goal with a shot of her own. Her initial attempt was saved by St. Francis Prep goaltender Samantha Cobotic. Coyle tried to score off the first rebound and failed. Seeing a potential opportunity, Coyle stuck with the second rebound and knocked it into the net.
The goal was a giant breakthrough against the notoriously stingy St. Francis Prep defense. After all, Sacred Heart outshot the Terriers 16-4.
"They don't give up many goals. We ultimately had to be a patient and try to break them down," Sacred Heart coach Peter Bralower said.
To do that, Sacred Heart (6-6-2) showed its depth. The Lady Spartans used 19 players in the victory, keeping legs fresh and subs motivated.
"We're a well-balanced team," Bralower said. "I think by being able to rotate some players, we were able to keep pressure on."
Although Coyle and Oliviera were the only names on the final stat sheet, Bralower was quick to point out a number of players whose efforts led to the victory.
Reilly Lucas, Kelsey Oliviera (Hayley's sister), and Sara Galzarano all played well defensively in the center of the field. Meaghan Ginty and Erin Hergarty were key components to Sacred Heart's offensive effort, according to Bralower.
Now, attention shifts to St. Anthony's (10-1-1), which beat Sacred Heart twice this season.
"We have to come out and play our best game of the year," Bralower said.