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The Pirates girl’s soccer team fell 1-0 to Haddonfield on Friday in the South, Group 2 sectional final to end the 2016 season.
#1 Cinnaminson entered the game having won five in a row, including their two final regular season games.
#2 Haddonfield (24-1) entered on a three-game win streak, all coming in the playoffs.
The Pirates (19-3-1) dominated play for most of the first half, having quite a few opportunities to score.
“A lot of credit to Haddonfield,” head coach Matt Digney said. “They muscle through the ball and keep you off balance at times. They swarm the ball well.”
The first scoring chance came when Hailey Gutowski went in on net side-by-side with a defender and got a shot off that went just wide to the right.
Not much later, Emma Karch rocketed a shot off the middle of the crossbar.
The Pirates best chance in the first half wound up being a disallowed goal.
Justyne Gutowski snuck one past the Bulldogs keeper after a corner, but the official in the middle of the field waived off the goal.
The official called obstruction by the Pirates against the keeper.
“I thought it was a soft call,” Digney said. “I knew we had the wind in our favor.”
“Alex Keck has been putting good corners in the box. It was exactly what we wanted to do. The ball dropped like we thought it would. The whistle blew and it wasn’t a very obvious foul by any means. He saw something that many or most did not see.”
The game remained deadlocked at 0-0 at the break.
With a little over 29 minutes left in the second half, Haddonfield moved the ball into the box when Nichol Green collided with Alex Keck.
On yet another questionable call, the middle official called a penalty kick for the Bulldogs.
“I saw contact. It wasn’t ankle contact. It was upper body contact,” Digney said.
“I felt like it was a call where it was exaggerated and the referee went for it. By no means was it an obvious penalty kick. If it’s not called, I don’t think anyone’s yelling it should be called.”
Green buried the shot in the right corner of the net for a 1-0 Haddonfield lead.
The Bulldogs clamped down defensively, limiting the Pirates scoring chances the rest of the game as their defense constantly swarmed the ball.
“They played to the end,” Digney said. “This team’s always had a lot of heart. We stuck to the gameplan. They played hard. I’m real proud of them.”
The Pirates put pressure on the Bulldogs defense for the final 10-plus minutes of the game, but could not get the equalizer, falling 1-0 to end the season.
“It was a tough loss,” Digney said. “You can’t always plan to win the way you want to win, regardless of how the game is handled by the referees. We still had some unfinished business that we could have done better on the field. It’s a learning experience.”
Digney spoke about the legacy his seniors leave with the program.
“I feel sorry for Alex (Keck), Miranda (Sackner) and Justyne (Gutowski). It’s a tough way to go out. They certainly had great four-year careers.”
“We’ve come full circle. We’ve had some hard work and competitive teams. It’s been an improvement every year and that’s in large part from them leading us in that direction.”
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