GIRLS SOCCER: Utica Ford holds off Troy in shootout to advance to regional finals

| June 7, 2017 | Comments (0)



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UTICA — On her 16th birthday, Nicole Fiantaco should have been the recipient of multiple presents.

The Utica Ford sophomore was the one delivering the gifts.

The eighth-ranked Falcons found enough resilience to slip past Troy, 3-2, in a Division 1 regional semifinal Tuesday at Utica’s Swinehart Stadium, as Fiantaco delivered both of Ford’s goals in regulation.

Her teammates held a 5-4 edge on penalty kicks with Salena Speagle netting the game-deciding PK in the shootout. Cecilia Steinwascher, Julie Ann Piechocki, Darlene Radamaker and Alana Wood converted the first four penalties for the Falcons, who advanced to the regional finals for the third time in the past decade.

Goalkeeper Emma Boutorwick stopped Troy’s first penalty shot in the shootout, which helped make the difference in the end.

“I think it’s my best birthday so far,” laughed Fiantaco.

Ford will face 13th-ranked New Baltimore Anchor Bay in the regional finals Thursday at 7 p.m., also at Swinehart. Anchor Bay (18-1-4) dispatched St. Clair Shores Lake Shore in the first semifinal, 4-1, to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.

Ford (15-1-4) held a commanding 21-6 edge in shots over Troy, including 12-5 with shots directly on frame. The Falcons outshot Troy, 4-0, over the two 10-minute overtime periods.

Still, Ford had a hard time putting the Colts away.

“I was a nervous wreck. I wouldn’t be human if I weren’t,” noted Ford coach Teri Steinwascher. “Anything can happen in a shootout. We found a way.”

As Ford held an 8-0 shots edge in the first half, Fiantaco finally broke the scoreless stalemate with 4:11 left in the opening frame when Wood’s long free kick was redirected inside the far post by the onrushing Fiantaco.

Troy, which finished 8-9-4, didn’t attempt a single shot until there was just over 24 minutes left in the contest.

The Colts still knotted the score at 1-1 at the 22:24 mark of the second half when Marissa Young scored a close-range goal. Ally Smolinski lofted along free kick into the penalty box and Alex Lillie flicked the ball over to Young.

Ford regained the lead with 14:30 remaining in regulation when Radamaker beat a pair of defenders and spun a quick touch to Fiantaco, who uncorked an 18-yard laser to the left corner.

Troy countered a second time when Smolinski caught Boutorwick napping and ripped a 30-yard free kick into the upper-90 by the left post with 6:09 remaining to knot the score at 2-2.

“I give Teri (Steinwascher) a lot of credit, I give this team we played a lot of credit,” said Troy coach Dan Troccoli. “For us to play with them and stay with them the way we did, my girls should be very proud of themselves as I am of them.”

Ford is one win away from reaching the Final Four for the first time since 2014. The Falcons tied Anchor Bay twice during the regular season.

“I expect another close game, if not like tonight’s,” said Steinwascher. “They’re playing better, we’re playing better. It’s going to be close. I expect a game like 3-2, 2-1, 1-0 — it will be close.”

NEW BALTIMORE ANCHOR BAY 4, ST. CLAIR SHORES LAKE SHORE 1: Kayla Polisano netted two goals, Rachel Russo added a goal and an assist, and Lindsey Shira also scored in leading Anchor Bay to the regional semifinals victory. Andrea Tungul scored for Lake Shore (15-5-1).

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