Port A soccer continues stellar start

GIRLS:
Port Allegany 4, Smethport 0
Port Allegany 4, ECC 2
Port Allegany 2, Kane 0

Chalk up three more in the win column for the Port Allegany girls soccer team.
The Lady Gators (7-1, 3-0 UAVSL North) continued to explore uncharted territory last week, running their program-best winning streak to seven games with victories over Smethport, Elk County Catholic, and Kane.

On Monday, Port downed their rivals from Hubberville by the same 4-0 count as earlier in the season, with Autumn Buchsenschutz finding the net twice, freshmen Cailey Barnett and Tara Briggs also scoring. Goalkeeper Brianna Roys made four saves to pick up her second career shutout.

Wednesday’s game was a close call, with the visiting Lady Crusaders holding the edge on the scoreboard for most of the cloudy afternoon. But as the sun came out late in the second half, so did the Gator offense.

After Barnett leveled the score with a left-footed strike at 11:29, Evie Russell made her first career goal a huge one, knocking in the rebound from a corner kick with 4:44 remaining to give Port its first lead of the game. The Gator girls continued to apply pressure, adding an insurance goal at the 1:20 mark as Autumn Freer sent home a cross from Buchsenschutz.

“This was a great win. They’re in the upper echelon,” Port coach Travis Cowburn said.

Roys stopped eight shots, while Catherine Cerroni and McKayla Wilson scored and Mackenzie Cashmer made four saves for ECC.

Saturday was Senior Day at the Moose Park field, with Sydney Fitzsimmons, Lorilei Smith, and co-captains Buchsenschutz, Russell, and Kennedy Dates honored. The Gators celebrated with a 2-0 clean sheet over Kane, with Buchsenschutz notching her 15th goal of the season and junior Leah Garzel her first while Roys kept the Wolves at bay with three saves.

“Different people have been stepping up. I think that shows a lot of character for our team,” Cowburn said. “Looking for that spark, there’s not a one of them that isn’t able to give it. I think that’s what I’m most proud of, so far, anyway.”

This week’s schedule includes games at St. Marys on Wednesday and Genesee Valley (N.Y.) at 7 p.m Friday, with the rematch against Smethport (Sept. 28) the only contest on next week’s slate. Beyond that, a pair of matchups against unbeaten division co-leader Ridgway await in October.

While mentioning the Lady Elkers as the “top of the heap” in the UAVSL North, Cowburn said, “I think it’s wide open. If we can hold it together, we can make a good run. If we get Katie Ernst back full-speed, we can make some noise. We’re hoping to, anyway.”

BOYS:
Port Allegany 4, ECC 1
Port Allegany 4, Smethport 1
Port Allegany 4, St. Marys 1

The Port Allegany boys prepared for Tuesday’s showdown against Coudersport with a trio of 4-1 victories last week, downing Elk County Catholic in a physical non-league contest on Tuesday before earning UAVSL North wins against Smethport and St. Marys.

On Tuesday, Brandon McCaslin scored the only goal of the first half against ECC, with Mackenzie Elliott heading home a direct kick by Bryce Baker 12 minutes into the second session to give the Gators a 2-0 lead.

With the game turning increasingly chippy, Elliott converted the second of two Port penalty kicks at the 16:42 mark before the Crusaders tallied late to avoid the shutout.

“I don’t think either team played particularly well. It was an ugly game. Luckily we scored four goals in a bad game,” Port coach Aaron Clark said. “I was proud we kept our composure.”

Josh Mealy stopped four shots to earn the win in net, while Payton Caden notched his second goal in as many games with 0:23 left to cap off the scoring.

“Payton was great. He has flashes where he reminds me of Scotty Brookens at times,” Clark said. “He works hard out there. It’s nice to see him rewarded for his effort.”

McCaslin scored twice, Elliott and David Talkington each added a goal, and Caden had three assists in Thursday’s win over Smethport, with Mealy making three saves. On Saturday, Elliott scored his seventh goal of the season to match McCaslin for the team lead, with Caden, Adam Doan and Leo McDowell also adding goals as the Gators earned the road win against the Dutch.

Following the Coudy game, a matchup between the last two UAVSL North champions, Port heads to Eisenhower on Thursday for a non-league contest against the Knights.

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