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12th-seeded Unionville upset on penalty kicks by Council Rock North

EAST MARLBOROUGH >> The Unionville girls soccer squad ended the 2016 season with a Ches-Mont American crown tucked away, and managed to hold its last four opponents without a goal. The seventh and eighth straight scoreless halves — plus an additional 30 minutes of overtime — came on Monday in the first round of the District 1 4A playoffs, but it still wasn’t enough to advance.

After 110 minutes of regulation and two overtimes, there was still no winner Monday night, but visiting Council Rock North ended the Indians’ season, 4-3, on penalty kicks for a 1-0 win. Seeded 21st, C.R. North prevailed on PKs and will move on to play No. 5 Spring-Ford on Thursday.

“For either team, it would be a letdown to lose this way after playing that many minutes,” said Unionville head coach Joe Ratasiewicz.

“I thought it was a well contested game. We both had our chances and you hate to see it come down to PKs,” agreed North head coach Wendell Beres. “We’ve been there before and we’ve ended seasons on PKs. But at the end of the day, we are just happy with the result and we’ll move on and play on Thursday.”

The 12th-seeded Indians (12-5-2 overall) had some momentum heading into the penalty kicks, but lost it quickly when offensive standout Veronica Hineman and defensive stalwart Erin Garvey came up empty handed on the team’s first two attempts. Council Rock North (12-6 overall) later won it when senior defender Carly Blair broke a 3-3 deadlock on the final kick of the first round.

“All I can say is that in that situation, there is a lot of pressure on these kids,” Ratasiweicz pointed out.

“We should have scored two or three goals in regulation. When you miss good scoring chances, it always comes back to bite you. We had at least three that we should have cashed in on. We finally penetrated two or three times but we just didn’t finish.”

Despite ceding a territorial advantage for a big chunk of the contest, Unionville started to surge in earnest down the stretch of regulation, with Hineman delivering a pair of prime scoring chances in the final 12 minutes alone. The first was a blast off the post following a scramble in front of the C.R. North goal, and the second was a breakaway that was smothered by keeper Carly Riggs.

The only dangerous scoring chance in either of the two 15-minute overtime sessions came on a driving shot by C.R. North’s Kayla Robinson that was redirected away by a diving Katie Borlie in goal for Unionville.

“We kept them away from the goal pretty well. Our keeper made a couple key saves, but there weren’t a lot of shots on her,” Ratasiewcicz said.

The Indians started slow and played tentatively in the first half as C.R. North seemed to get to the majority of the 50-50 balls. The visitors had the best scoring chance of the first 40 minutes when Mia Scalamandre clanged a free kick off the far post.

In all, Unionville had a 10-4 edge in shots but C.R. North limited the Indians to zero corner kicks and worked for six of its own.

“Right now my head is spinning,” Ratasiewicz admitted. “But we had a good season and they finished strong.

“This team has been very resilient given all the adversity we’ve experienced.”

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