WARREN, Pa. – The numbers are staggering. They are a combined 35-0 this season, but that “0” will turn to a “1” for either Mars or Warren girls soccer following their PIAA State quarterfinal match at Mars Saturday.
Not only do both teams come into the match unbeaten, they’ve done so in dominating fashion. Warren has outscored its opponents, 144-2, while Mars has a 105-5 goal differential.
Both boast potent offenses, both have shutdown defenses. According to MaxPrep’s rankings, Mars is No. 1 in the state in 3A, Warren is No. 3. Something’s gotta give.
The Dragons have been hoping for this match since bowing out to the eventual state champions in the first round last year.
“That was the No. 1 goal for the year,” Warren coach Jeremy Bickling said following the Dragons’ 2-1 win over Bradford. “They’re not afraid of playing Mars, where last year they may have been afraid. Now, they want that challenge.”
And it will be a challenge. The Planets are the defending state champions and have a pair of players, Gracie Dunaway and Ellie Coffield, who signed their National Letters of Intent to play collegiately at Purdue and Pitt, respectively, this week.
Mars is currently riding a 6-game shutout streak as well.
But the Dragons are a talented bunch, too.
Kyleigh Wilson and Kyra Wotorson were first and third in District 10 with 45 and 31 goals, respectively. Georgie Bickling led the way with 38 assists.
Warren’s defense, though not in the limelight as much as the offense, has been every bit as dominating.
“They (the defense) didn’t get a lot of credit or the spotlight because it was such an offensively oriented season,” Bickling said. “But we know how good they are and we know what sort of pressure they can handle.”
Keeper Alyssa Andersen has allowed just two goals all season, both on penalty kicks. And she showed in last Saturday’s win over Bradford, she’s perfectly capable of turning away a high-pressure attack.
Saturday’s match is set to kickoff from the Mars Athletic Complex at 2 p.m. The winner will advance to the semifinals where they will face either Mechanicsburg or Hollidaysburg.