Rhiallie Jessell kicks lift Lancers over the Mounties

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/ Sun-Gazette
Juliana Cruz of Loyalsock, right, and Lexie Yerger of South Williamsport, left, fight for the ball in the second half Tuesday at Loyalsock.

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/ Sun-Gazette Juliana Cruz of Loyalsock, right, and Lexie Yerger of South Williamsport, left, fight for the ball in the second half Tuesday at Loyalsock.

By JON GERARDI

jgerardi@sungazette.com

Both times Rhiallie Jessell lined up to attempt her penalty kicks, she looked as cool and relaxed as she could be. And both times, after taking a few quick stutter steps, Jessell drilled her shot quickly to just inside of the left post. Each one sailed just past the fingertips of South goalie Alyssa Johnson who made a great dive on both attempts.

Being that calm and collected when lining up for a big PK may just be from how confident Jessell is when she goes to shoot it and on Tuesday, it showed. The Loyalsock senior was on the money with both shots, and both times came away with a goal.

Jessell scored those only two goals of the night on Tuesday evening off penalty kicks to give Loyalsock a 2-0 win over South Williamsport at Kenneth Robbins Stadium.

“It’s a tough thing under pressure sometimes to put them away and congratulations to her for doing that,” Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort said. “Second one she definitely earned, beating the defender in the box and getting tripped up. We’ll take it.”

Jessell scored her first PK with 25:39 to play to give Loyalsock (4-0) an early 1-0 lead against the Mounties (1-2-1).

Both teams had excellent chances to score in both halves. South’s Lela Warner accounted for two of the Mounties’ four first-half shots on goal. She also narrowly missed two great shots to the far post that went just wide in the first half as well.

“It was our type of game. Lot of possession. I thought our girls did really well and I love the Sock girls, they did great as well, but I tell you, I was super proud,” South Williamsport coach Dan Solley said. “They did everything we wanted them to do.”

“I think first half, I honestly believe South might have outplayed us a little bit. We weren’t doing what we wanted to do and needed to do,” Comfort said. “They were kind of possessing, we were giving them a lot of space in midfield, still don’t give them a ton of great chances, which we were lucky to get out of there being up 1-0, but I thought we were a little bit better in the second half and owned that half and just fortunate enough to get out of here with a win.”

Both Warner and Bella Green had nice chances late in the first half to score, but Loyalsock goalie Grace Schreckengast made diving stops to prevent a equalizing goal on either attempt.

Loyalsock almost put in a second goal 15 minutes into the second half when junior Juliana Cruz rifled a nice high shot, but Johnson leaped up and made a great save to prevent the goal.

Both goalies made great saves throughout the night.

“It’s a given for me right now,” Solley said about Johnson playing excellent in the goal. “Alyssa is just, I told you last time, she’s such a leader. I love to watch her play.”

South Williamsport isolated Jessell, as her two goals both came off penalty kicks. Aside from those, she didn’t record a single through 80 minutes. Loyalsock did hold an 8-5 shot advantage over the Mounties however, including out-shooting South in the second half, 5-1.

“I thought we shut down most of their better players and this night, there’s two penalty kicks that were just bad luck. Our girls, very proud of them,” Solley said. “They did absolutely everything we asked them to do in practice the last week. We played as good as you can play against one of the best teams in the league.”

Jessell converted her second penalty kick with 21:11 remaining in the game, sending it to her left like she did her first kick for the 2-0 lead against South Williamsport. It was a huge goal for the Lancers to take a two-goal lead against a South team that routinely found nice chances.

“It’s pretty big. We wanted to come in and get some goals tonight just knowing that we got to turn around and play (Wednesday). So we probably put a little bit more energy into it than we wanted to,” Comfort said.

L–Rhiallie Jessell (penalty kick), 25:39. L–Jessell (penalty kick), 21:11.

Shots: SW 5, L 8. Corners: SW 2, L 0. Saves: SW (Alyssa Johnson) 5, L (Grace Schreckengast) 6.

Records: Loyalsock (4-0), South Williamsport (1-2-1).

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