Oddo, Avonworth oust banged up Bearcats
McMURRAY – Bentworth head coach Dan Haywood has dealt with a numbers problem all season.
With players dedicated to other extracurricular activities in August, his team was not at full strength until two weeks into the season. It didn’t take long for that to change. A rash of injuries, including concussions, knee issues and broken noses, left the Bearcats decimated; forcing Haywood to play three freshmen and a goal keeper in her first year of organized soccer.
Despite the adversity, the Bearcats (10-8) made the WPIAL playoffs in Class A. The catch: Bentworth drew a tough matchup against Avonworth (14-4).
Bentworth’s inexperience showed on Saturday afternoon as they lost the first round match to Avonworth, 3-0 at Peters Township in the opening round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
“We’ve had too many things to even mention,” Haywood said. “For them to get to where they were at was a tribute to the girls. For the past two and a half weeks, they kept getting better and better. When they accomplish what they have accomplished, they should be proud and the parents should be proud. I know I am.”
With three freshmen starting on defense for the Bearcats, the team had the tall task of defending Antelopes senior midfielder Thanna Oddo, an experienced offensive threat who combines speed with a nose for the net.
Oddo did not take long to expose Bentworth’s youth – scoring with under 24 minutes remaining in the first half. Senior midfielder Amelia Nathum intercepted a pass at midfield and found Oddo sprinting toward Bentworth’s goal. Oddo received the pass and fired a shot from 15 yards out to beat junior goalkeeper Jeanna Brewer.
Brewer, who is in her first year as a high school soccer player, was especially impressive on Saturday. Depsite her team only accumulating two shots on goal, Brewer stopped the Antelopes early and often – making diving saves on Oddo and Abby Grove.
Oddo and a strong Antelopes offense were too much to overcome, regardless of Brewer’s play. Oddo scored her second goal with 17 minutes remaining in the second half as she beat a Bentworth defender to a loose ball and shot past Brewer on the far side of the net. She added a third goal with 30 seconds left in the game on a similar play, beating a defender and putting a solid shot on net.
“We’ve hardly had the same players on the field every game,” Haywood said. “I thought we were really going to be in this game and that it would come down to the wire, but we came out flat and never got better. Our goalie was awesome. Jeanna was terrific.”
The Bearcats have six graduating seniors but just four were in the lineup on Saturday because of various injuries.
Forwards Madison Jones and Madison Fowler, a pair of underclassmen, recorded Bentworth’s only shots of the game.
“It’s always fun coming to the playoffs,” Jones said. “We were all excited, but things happen, I guess. We are losing six girls but the rest of us are good. We have been playing with each other for a really long time.”