CHIPPEWA TWP. -- It quickly became apparent that the Ambridge girls’ soccer team was entering uncharted territory Monday night after a 6-3 playoff-clinching win over Blackhawk.
“This is the first time in my career I’ll be going to the playoffs,” said senior captain Taylor Mealie, who's first half goal extended the lead to 3-1. “I had faith in my teammates that we could do it.”
That faith, though, would have been wasted without actions. The Bridgers needed to win at Blackhawk to make the playoffs.
A Central Valley loss at home to South Fayette would have done the same thing, but the Warriors won earlier in the night, forcing the Bridgers to rely on themselves to make the postseason.
“We didn’t want to have to rely on someone else,” said Mealie. “We knew we could win, we just had to put the ball in the net.”
The Bridgers did that as Mealie was joined in the goal-scoring column by teammates Megan Guthrie, Riley Sas, Gretchen Oslick and Brandie Nauman (2). Blackhawk’s goals were scored by Elissa O’Connor and Alondra Gonzalez (2).
“We knew we would have to be strong to the ball and find the net,” Helsel said. “We knew we needed to score goals. We have had some success against Blackhawk but this is always a tough place to play. We did what we needed to do.”
With Central Valley winning Monday, Ambridge (9-5-2 overall, 7-5-2 section) finished third in its section.
Now the Bridgers will await the announcement by the WPIAL soccer committee on Thursday with games likely to start Saturday for some teams. At the start of the season, few expected that Ambridge would be in this position.
“I think anyone that looked at our section after the realignment would have put Moon, Montour and South Fayette in the top three,” Helsel said. “Most would have put Central Valley fourth and expected us to battle for fifth.
“I always thought we had a good chance, but I don’t think anyone outside of our team thought we did.”
The Bridgers will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. That Ambridge team had a 15-3-2 record but lost in the first round.
This year’s team is looking for a longer stay.
“We’re not just happy to be there,” said Mealie. “We want to go as far as we get.”