Freedom captured its first-ever WPIAL title and completed an undefeated season by defeating Freeport 4-1 on the strength of a pair of goals each from its two super sophomores, Myla Sharpless and Michaela Watkins.
“Even at the beginning of the year, I thought we’d be pretty good, but didn’t think I’d ever imagine that we would have finished undefeated and would win a WPIAL title,” said Colin Williams, Freedom Head Coach.
The Bulldogs (20-0) came out attacking and bringing a lot of high pressure from the beginning of the match, disrupting the Yellow Jackets normally fluid possession-based system.
Sure enough, eight minutes in, Watkins capitalized on a misplayed ball, and found room on the right side to bury a breakaway goal for the early 1-0 lead.
Freeport had a few excellent chances shortly after the early Freedom goal, on a pair of well placed services into the box from Sidney Shemanski, but left to ponder a few narrow misses.
After dodging a few bullets, the Bulldogs then took command of the contest, after setting up its fourth corner kick of the first half, Sharpless converted on a corner kick with a terrific finish on a set piece drawn up by Williams.
“It worked for us early in the season, and we were able to get it to go,” said Williams.
In the second half, with Freeport owning lots of possession, Williams admitted that his team tired a bit.
In the 55th minute, Freeport made things very interesting, as Shemanski sent a high cross to the far post area to Abby Bastaja who was unmarked, took a touch and drilled a shot into the net to cut the lead in half, 2-1.
Freeport’s momentum would be short-lived.
Less than a minute after the Yellow Jackets goal, Watkins found her way into the box, beating a pair of defenders to the ball — and poked shot over goalkeeper Cassie Suran.
Both teams will advance to the PIAA playoffs beginning on Tuesday — as Freeport will play Karns City, and Freedom will find out its opponent in the next few days.
For Williams, after many years of coaching WPIAL high school soccer, starting programs at Seneca Valley and West Allegheny, it was his first title win.
With a pair of terrific sophomores in Watkins and Sharpless, this just may be the beginning for the Bulldogs.