Nov. 3—NORTHAMPTON — Pottsville made girls’ soccer program history Wednesday evening at Catasauqua’s Rough Rider Stadium.
Gracie Evans saw to it.
Bob Stock saw to it.
The entire Pottsville Crimson Tide team saw to it.
With a 1-0 victory over top-seeded Southern Lehigh (13-5-2), No. 2 seed Pottsville claimed its first-ever District 11 girls’ soccer championship, capturing the Class 3A title in a game that went down to the wire.
For the Crimson Tide (14-6-2), it was their fourth-consecutive appearance in the championship game — fifth in the past six years — but each time Pottsville came away empty.
Not this time.
Evans, who scored a pair of goals in last week’s 5-0 semifinal victory over Pocono Mountain East, knocked home the game-winner this time when she took the ball off the foot of a Southern Lehigh defender and put a shot past Spartans’ keeper Ava Foran. The right-footed Evans put the ball home from the opposite side.
“When I got the ball, it was on my left foot and I just shot it and I literally looked up and it was in the goal,” Evans said. “I thought they saved it, but it went in and I was so happy.
“I had my eyes closed when I shot the ball and I thought the goalie got it. When I looked up, I was so happy.”
It was one of just six shots the Tide put on Foran the entire night. That total, however, was five more than the Pottsville defense allowed to get in on Tide keeper Maya Golden.
“It’s usually one-goal games and Gracie did it,” said Stock, the Pottsville head coach. “She put it in there.”
Pottsville’s defensive effort was nothing short of tremendous. The Tide’s back line kept Southern Lehigh shooters from getting a clear line at the goal. They cleared balls out in dangerous situations, and they kept the Spartans’ level of frustration growing throughout the 80 minutes.
Southern Lehigh’s only shot on goal came in the first half despite the Spartans becoming more aggressive in their attack during the second half.
“They changed their formations up, so we had to adjust a little bit,” Stock said. “But we held tight.
“They wanted it. They really wanted it.”
Southern Lehigh coach Andrew Filler wasn’t happy with his team’s performance in the first half and made adjustments during the break.
“We were slow in the first half,” Filler said. “We weren’t going to 50-50 balls. We didn’t really have a lot of desire.
“Second half, we played the way I know we can play, the way we played last game, the way we’ve been playing for the past month and a half. It’s just when you’re chasing a goal in the second half and you decide to turn it on in the second half, sometimes it’s a little too late.”
Pottsville will now look ahead to the opening round of the state playoffs, Tuesday, Nov. 8, when it will meet the second-place finisher out of District 3. No. 4 seed Greencastle-Antrim (19-1-1) meets No. 2 seed Lower Dauphin (17-3-1) at 5 p.m. today at Cumberland Valley to decide that championship.
“It’s amazing,” said Stock of his team’s accomplishments this season. “I’m so happy for these girls.
“They worked their tails off. They deserve it. They worked so hard this year.”
For Evans and her teammates, the victory was a bit of redemption after falling 1-0 to Division I rival Jim Thorpe in the Schuylkill League championship game last month.
“I was so happy,” Evans said. “We wanted this. We may not have won leagues, but we came back, we fought back and we won the first district title in school history.”
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