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Sacred Heart tops Kellenberg to reach CHSAA final

Sacred Heart's Reilly Lucas, left, gets pressured by

Sacred Heart's Reilly Lucas, left, gets pressured by St. Francis' Autumn Brown in the first half of an NSCHSAA varsity girls soccer Class AA play-in game at Collins Soccer Park. (Oct. 24, 2012) Credit: James Escher

Halloween is two days away, but the members of Sacred Heart's girls soccer team already have been in costume for weeks . . . somewhat.

Marianna Mercado has been disguised as a midfielder.

Kelsey Olivera, she's been a sweeper.

Reilly Lucas, a stopper.

No, they haven't been wearing wigs or makeup or any of that. They simply switched positions. Those adjustments have led to a late-season surge by No. 4 Sacred Heart, which handed top-seeded Kellenberg its first loss of the season Monday, 2-1, in the CHSAA semifinals.

"Other teams seem to be a little deeper than we are, so we had to try some different things," Sacred Heart coach Peter Bralower said. "So far, they have worked out well."

Mercado, who started the season as a defender, played a ball to Sarah Galzarano, who scored from 20 yards for a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the first half. Midway through the half, Kerri Bradley received a ball from Nicole Cody and fired into the back of the net from 25 yards to increase the lead to 2-0.

Paige McDermott scored during a scramble by the net to pull Kellenberg (8-1-5) within 2-1 with 22 minutes left.

Kaitlyn Gorman made four saves for Sacred Heart (8-5-4), including a stop with two minutes left in which she punched the ball over the crossbar.

Sacred Heart advances to play No. 3 St. John the Baptist in the championship game at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Adelphi.

"Our girls are playing on a lot of adrenaline," Bralower said. "Hopefully, we can carry the momentum one more game."

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