Steffani Gravely talked about how important the Central-Northeast soccer rivalry is to her and her teammates.
"We look forward to it all year," said Gravely, a center midfielder for the Lancers. "Northeast has a lot of good players, a lot of good talent."
The Vikings are indeed talented, but the Lancers have had their number in recent seasons. Yesterday, in what was likely a preview of the Public League championship game, Central swept the regular-season series with a 2-0 victory at Charles Martin Memorial Stadium.
The Lancers beat Northeast, 3-1, at home on April 9. Last year, while winning its third straight Public League crown, Central defeated the Vikings three times. The squad did the same in 2005, winning the title on penalty kicks.
Bill Steinke, Northeast's third-year coach, is 0-8 against the Lancers.
"I think the girls psyche themselves out against Central," Steinke said. "I want them to get out there and play with confidence."
The Lancers (6-0-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead less than nine minutes into the game. On a direct kick, Gravely booted the ball into the left side of the box. After it bounced around a bit, Jill Barrett headed it into the net.
The 5-foot Gravely, nicknamed "Short Stuff" by her teammates, is a four-year starter. She is quick, a talented passer, and switches nicely between playing offense and defense.
"I love being a midfielder," Gravely said. "I get to play on both sides of the ball. I used to be a goalie, so I have pretty good field vision and know where to put the ball."
Gravely lives in the Frankford neighborhood, near Large and Dyre streets. The 18-year-old plays for Fox Chase Soccer Club's under-19 team, coached by Jack Kilroy.
"She's got great endurance, helps control the middle, and she's a vocal captain," Central coach Paul Metzgar said. "There are not too many players in the league tougher than her."
Gravely will continue her soccer career at Slippery Rock. Her father, John, played the sport at Franklin Learning Center.
"Slippery Rock has a rebuilding program," she said. "I think I can go in there and contribute right away."
The Lancers added an insurance score in the 80th minute. Off a perfectly placed right-side feed from Kirsten Quinn, Ellen Kaufmann registered her 10th goal of the season.
The Vikings (5-2) were limited to four shots. At the 30-minute mark of the first half, Central goalie Christina Baker made a diving save of a shot by Erin Null that looked as if it would sneak inside the right post.
Central1 1 - 2
Northeast0 0 - 0
Goals: C–Jill Barrett, Ellen Kaufmann.
Saves: C–Christina Baker 3; NE–Jessica Shotwell 3.