McCarty scores twice, CB West shuts out Elizabethtown to reach PIAA AAA final

HAMBURG — Its place in the PIAA Class AAA final secured, the Central Bucks West girls soccer team was ready for a little victory music.

The Bucks, however, blasted a somewhat odd celebratory tune on the turf at Hamburg Area High School — Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

“We listened to it before one of our games and we won that game and we’re really superstitious,” West senior Shae McCarty said.  “We’ve had our pasta parties at the same house for all the playoffs games.”

Whatever works. And Tuesday night in the state semifinals against Elizabethtown, it was stingy defense and McCarty converting a pair of chances as the Bucks earned their first trip to Hershey in six seasons with a 2-0 victory over the District 3 runner-up Bears.

“Surreal. It’s unreal. We’ve been working for this since I was a freshman,” West senior goalkeeper Grace Bendon said. “It’s so awesome to finally get rewarded.”

McCarty had a goal in each half — scoring first in the 10th minute, then in the 60th — while Bendon and the Bucks’ defense earned its fifth postseason shutout as Central Bucks West (19-6-1), which finished third in District 1, goes for the program’s eighth PIAA title against Canon McMillan 4 p.m. Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium.

The District 7 champs prevented an all-Central Bucks final when they edged CB East 2-1 in the other semifinal Tuesday at Chambersburg High School.

“It feels awesome to be able to try and continue this tradition,” McCarty said. “Even going this far in states is awesome for us. If we win, we decided to get tattoos of eight stars, cause that’s how many championships West (will have) won. So the history is really, really important to us.”

CB West is making its first state final since switching from the spring to fall season beginning in 2010. The Bucks’ last title came in 2007 when it shared the spring AAA crown with Central Dauphin. The teams met again for the PIAA championship the next year, with CD beating West 1-0.

“It’s awesome because this is my fourth year, I’m a senior. This has been a goal since my freshman year,” McCarty said. “We knew the seniors really wanted this, so now it’s our year to shine and to do this.”

Elizabethtown (19-6-1) scored nine goals in its first two PIAA games — six coming from midfielders Madison Mohr and Talia Grynkewicz — but the Bears became the 15th team in 2014 Central Bucks West held scoreless.

“We were able to do a good bit of scouting and we noticed they were very technical and they like to penetrate through the middle,” CB West coach Jorge Rodriguez said. “I lot of the goals they’ve had in the past two games, which were nine, came through a lot of through balls through the center.

“We have a very solid core group in our middle with Allie Walsh, Mackenzie Carroll, Sophie McKnight and today Holly Pyles, who I though was a stud, an absolutely stud. So it was really solid for us to make sure that didn’t get those looks through. And even then they still did, they got two or three balls through that could have been bad for us.”

CB West is Rodriguez second team he has taken to Hershey, as he was head coach of Pennridge when it made the 2011 3A final. Rodriguez, however, was not at that final — the Rams lost 2-1 to Peters Township — due to traveling to his honeymoon destination.

“I’m not missing this one,” he said.

McCarty gave the Bucks the 1-0 lead 30:36 after being played behind the E-town backline thanks to a volley from Mary Kate Vinkler. McCarty proceeded to chip a shot over outcoming Bears goalie Joy Hileman with the ball then rolling into the net in front of McCarty and two Elizabethtown defenders.

“MK won the ball in the middle and we knew they played a flat four, so we worked on that,” McCarty said. “MK chipped a through ball over her and I ran on to it with my speed. I’m OK for breakaways, but I knew I could chip the goalie cause she’s short.”

Elizabethtown had the better of play the rest of the first half, but most of the Bear’s forays forward ended with a ball being easily collected by Bendon.

“Watching their tape and stuff, they played a lot through the central. So, we wanted to have our two center backs — and we play with two holding mids — to clog up the middle, prevent any through balls,” Bendon said.  “And they started playing out wide the entire game, so we just adjusted.”

A chance for Elizabethtown to pull level came in the eighth minute after halftime as the Bears earned a free kick just outside the left side of the West penalty area. Grynkewicz’s effort toward goal was punched away by Bendon. E-town lofted a ball back into the box, but West cleared it away from any danger.

The Bucks doubled their advantage with 20:06 remaining in the contest on a Bendon free kick from midfield that found its way to the feet of McCarty, who laced a close-distance shot inside of the opposite post.

“We had that ball before earlier in the game that was almost the exact same and McKnight, she flicked it and no one was there on the back of it,” McCarty said. “So, I knew when it happened again, I had to run in behind and be there for it.”

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