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Defense Helps Elk County Catholic Upset No. 1 Seed Clarion-Limestone, Advance to Class A Title Match

STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9)— They say defense wins championships and if the Elk County Catholic boys soccer team plays defense in the District 9 championship game like they played in their 5-0 semifinal victory over Clarion-Limestone on Thursday evening, the Crusaders have a pretty good shot at taking the trophy to St. Marys.

Tim Brannock scored a hat trick to stake ECC to a 3-0 lead before Anthony Messineo and Frank Messineo added second-half goals to set the final score.

Goalkeeper Ryan Jovenitti stopped all nine shots he faced from the Lions in the contest.

“They executed our game plan to absolute perfection,” said ECC head coach Kelli Brannock. “We knew coming in that they could score goals on a dime. It was a team effort as our defense was outstanding, our goalkeeper was outstanding, and we were able to finish our opportunities. I’m very proud of these boys.”

Tim Brannock scored his first goal at the 26:33 mark of the first half with Messineo adding an assist. His second at the 15:09 mark skipped past the Lions’ goalkeeper. The final goal of the first half came at 7:26, again off a pass from Messineo to Brannock, for the 3-0 halftime lead.

“They really didn’t do anything different than they did the first time we played them,” said C-L head coach Don Montgomery. “They just came out tonight and outplayed us. Give them credit as they came out and earned every goal that they got and we on the other hand just couldn’t get our offense going.”

In the second half Messineo scored with 11:41 remaining in the contest on a free kick from 20 yards out that sailed over goalkeeper Tyler Bingham’s outstretched arms

Then five minutes later Bingham misplayed a clearing attempt and Frank Messineo was able to boot the ball into the net.

Over the final five minutes the Lions tried to mount several attacks to try and break the shutout, but the Crusaders defense and Jovenitti had an answer and stopped every attempt.

“I told our guys, the seniors especially, that they never had a losing season and they built a culture for the future of C-L soccer and they should be proud of that,” said Montgomery.

ECC will face Karns City in the championship game Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

“We’ll try and watch some film and we’ll prepare,” said Kelli Brannock, “and if we play like we did tonight I feel we have a pretty good shot.”