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JACKSON TWP. — The opponent and venue and weather change, but the result has stayed the same for the Quaker Valley soccer team for a month and a half.
Thursday at Seneca Valley, Quaker Valley (17-3) extended its winning streak to 17 games, defeating Mount Pleasant (13-5), 4-1, to advance to the semifinals of the WPIAL 2A playoffs. The Quakers will play Charleroi on Monday.
“I’d say it was a pretty good performance from us,” Quakers’ forward Franky Fernandez said. “We worked hard for 80 minutes. That’s the most important thing for us, to just keep up the tempo.”
It was dominant effort from the Quakers, who put 15 shots on goal to Mt. Pleasant’s two. Constantly, the Quakers were on the offensive, leaving Mt. Pleasant with few opportunities to score. Fernandez had two goals, while Thomas David and Dom Reiter added one a piece.
David got the scoring started for Quaker Valley, taking on a couple defenders, cutting and then ripping a shot from about 18-feet out in the 11th minute. After a relatively even first 10 minutes, it was the momentum swing Quaker Valley needed.
“It was a good goal. It’s something we’ve seen from him all year,” Quakers’ coach Andrew Marshall said. “When it opens up like that, we expect our guys to take advantage of it.”
“I think our nerves were still settling. And after we scored, that kind of settled our nerves, and we were able to play our game and keep control of it,” Fernandez added.
From there on, it was all Quaker Valley. The Quakers put a number of shots on goal and nearly scored a few times before Fernandez added onto the lead in the 29th minute via a penalty kick.
“Once I drew it, it was just me and the ball and the goalie. And I just had to stay focused,” Fernandez said. “I saw the goalie dive over to the right, so I just knew that I had to go left.”
Mt. Pleasant, though, would not stay dormant, eventually scoring in the 57th minute on a long strike from Brad Tait. For the next couple minutes, the Vikings starting to take over. An offense that had previously struggled started to generate some chances. The Quakers were on their heels.
But Dom Reiter quickly changed that in the 60th minute, beating his man and scoring from in close on a net left empty by the goalie, who extended outside of the net to try to stop the play.
If the game wasn’t over then, Fernandez added another goal two minutes later to completely take the wind out of the Vikings’ sails. Fernandez said that his team’s strong response to the adversity faced is common for them this year. Though some key players from last year’s state champion squad are no longer there, a number of players are still on the team. They’ve been through these moments before, and that was rather evident on Thursday.
“I think we’ve really settled in,” Fernandez said. “Every game we get better and better and play a higher and higher quality of soccer.”