REPUBLIC -- Brownsville was in a three-way logjam for second place in Section 3-AA and wanted to set itself apart as the WPIAL girls soccer playoffs approach.
Thanks to star junior Tessa Dellarose and a strong overall team effort, the Lady Falcons did just that with a 4-1 win over Yough at Redstone Field on Tuesday night.
That combined with Mount Pleasant's loss to section-champion Southmoreland gave Brownsville sole possession of second place and likely improved its playoff seeding, which will be determined at the WPIAL pairings meeting next Wednesday.
"This is an unbelievable group of players, and the coaching staff does a wonderful job, too," said Lady Falcons head coach Cedar Brunache, commending his squad along with assistant coach Leanna Wright and volunteer assistants Ron Dellarose and Dave Hudock.
"I have confidence in these young ladies going into the playoffs."
Tessa Dellarose scored her team's first goal and added two assists, and freshman Ava Kovscek put in a pair of second-half goals as Brownsville improved to 7-4 overall and ended section play at 7-3, two games behind the Lady Scotties (9-1, 11-1).
Yough (6-4, 9-4) and Mount Pleasant (6-4, 6-4), who are both also headed to the postseason, finished tied for third place.
Dellarose, a North Carolina recruit, scored the only goal of the first half with 15:07 left when she somehow booted a shot past Lady Cougars goalkeeper Marin Sleith from out front despite being surrounded by Yough defenders.
"Tessa is a gifted player who's just been unbelievable for us," Brunache said. "A lot of what we do revolves around her."
The score remained that way until the Lady Cougars' Natalie Vilchek tied it with a perfectly placed free kick 11 minutes into the second half.
"We were putting some pressure on them and then Natalie scored just a tremendous goal," Yough coach Dann Appolonia said. "I thought the first 15-20 minutes of the second half we really controlled the play. I knew at that point the next goal was going to be huge."
The goal was put in by Brownsville when Kovscek scored on an assist from Dellarose with 17:35 remaining.
"We don't get too nervous when we get up or get down, we just stay even," Brunache said.
"I didn't have much doubt that we would bounce back after they tied it," Dellarose said. "I know these girls and I trust them. I know they're quality players with ability."
Lady Falcons sophomore Alaina Johnson found the net just over four minutes later to make it 3-1, and Kovscek tacked on one final insurance goal with 4:41 left on Dellarose's second assist.
"They found the net on that second goal and then we had to push forward to try to tie it and any time you do that you start giving up odd-man breaks," Appolonia said.
Dellarose was pleased to see her team spread the scoring around.
"That was nice, especially the younger girls getting into it," she said.
"We had a freshman, Ava, chip in for us, as did Alaina, a sophomore," Brunache said. "Everybody just picked it up. You could see they really wanted it."
Goalkeeper Kami Franks was solid in the net for Brownsville, stopping seven of eight shots.
Sleith play well in defeat, making nine saves with two coming on strong shots by Dellarose.
"She played a tremendous game tonight," Appolonia said of his goalkeeper. "She made some really nice saves that kept us in the game."
Dellarose created a slew of scoring opportunities with her strength and speed despite drawing the attention of the Lady Cougars' defense.
"Controlling Tessa is always difficult," Appolonia said. "But I thought for the most part we played well."
"They're a very good team," Dellarose said of the Lady Cougars. "We knew it was going to be a battle."
Dellarose, Brownsville's all-time leader in goals, was coming off a six-goal performance at McGuffey that included the 100th of her career. She's now at 102.
"It means a lot to me, especially since no one's ever done that before here," Dellarose said of her milestone. "I'm happy to be the first one. I just love playing with these girls. They're great players and great people."
Both teams have one non-section game left before beginning the playoffs. Yough travels to Serra Catholic on Thursday while Brownsville goes to Beth-Center on Monday.
"I feel really good going in (to the playoffs) especially now that we've got second place in the section," Dellarose said. "I feel super-confident. We're just getting better each game."
Likewise, Appolonia feels his squad has improved as the season has gone along.
"We are a young team," he said. "We replaced eight starters this year. It took awhile for us to get our feet on the ground. We were 2-3 in the section the first time around and then 4-1 the second time around."
That included handing Southmoreland its lone loss of the season, 2-1 on Oct. 5.
"That game gave us a lot of confidence," Appolonia said. "I think the girls at that point finally figured we can play, and we can beat anyone."