BY JEFF FALK
GETTYSBURG – It’s great to shoot for the moon and settle for the stars. But it’s also important for goals to be realistic and reachable.
The Palmyra girls’ soccer team did an admirable job setting goals, then executing to reach them.
On a gorgeous Monday Night at Gettysburg High School’s Warrior Stadium, the Cougars’ mostly successful campaign came to a close, with a 2-1 defeat to the hometown Warriors, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA tournament. After falling behind 2-0 early in the second half, Palmyra’s switch to a different alignment created momentum, but the Cougars could never generate the equalizer.
With the outcome, 11th-seeded Palmyra ended its fall at 9-9-1 overall. But for the Cougars, the positives far outweighed the negatives.
The Cougars reached the District Three Class AAA postseason under first-year head coach Tim Grinstead, after posting just four wins last season. For Palmyra’s seniors, it was the first nine-win season of their careers.
In addition, Palmyra netted a total of 38 goals this year, a stark improvement over last season’s 11.
Gettysburg, the sixth-seed, moved to 15-4-1 and into Thursday’s quarterfinals opposite third-seeded Mechanicsburg.
“Yes. I think so,” said Grinstead, when asked if the season was a success. “We turned it around. And there’s more coming. But we lost some good seniors. We wanted to get to districts this year. It was one of the team’s goals. But we wanted to keep going forward. Some things are working. The next step is to continue winning.
“We did a lot of off-season stuff together,” continued Grinstead. “That helped them (his players) get comfortable with me. After the first four games, they started to understand the game plan. It’s a good group. They worked hard.”
Down 2-0 in the middle of the second half and in desperate need of a spark, the Cougars moved sophomore star Zoe Smith from her center back position to a forward spot. The move paid quick dividends.
With 22:08 remaining, Smith worked hard on the right baseline to cross a pass to teammate Nikki Romanowski at the near post. All that was left for Romanowski to do was touch the ball with her right foot inside the post.
While the goal was the result of momentum and created even more of it, the Cougars could not further dent Gettysburg goalie Jenna Brasee, despite some quality chances.
“With 23 minutes left, we pushed two up top, two strikers,” said Grinstead. “We were pressing for a goal. It was working, we just didn’t get the last one.
“That is what we work on,” Grinstead continued. “When you’re on the wing, you have to find that player open centrally. They (Smith and Romanowski) were on the same page. They had to execute the finish. But you want to see them pull it out. I felt like the momentum shifted. When we made that move, the intention was to put pressure on the back line.”
Gettysburg had grabbed a 1-0 lead 16:46 into the contest. Warrior Maddy Gaydon gobbled up a through-ball from teammate Lora Bertram in the middle of the field and slid a 25-yard left-footer to the right post, past Cougar keeper Bailey Corrigan.
“The key is not to panic,” said Grinstead of playing from behind. “It started to get stressful. Staying calm is hard to do in pressure situations. But I thought they (his players) handled it well.
“When we play our best we’re a passing and possessing team,” added Grinstead. “We’re not playing our best if we’re just kicking the ball all over the place. I think they (his players) came out better in the second half. They started to adjust. I thought we had a bunch of opportunities.”
The Warriors extended their lead to two goals 10:29 into the second half. Bertram beat Corrigan to an in-between loose ball and used her right foot to volley the ball past her and into the unattended goal.
“I’m proud of their effort,” said Grinstead of his charges. “We’re consistently working on possessing. I do think they played better than I’ve seen them. We had some missed opportunities we could’ve put on goal. We went to three (defenders) in the back and it helped get us back in the game.
“One of our goals was to get to districts,” Grinstead added. “We made it to districts and we accomplished a lot of other goals we set. They all played for the seniors. We just couldn’t find the net.”
In the final tally, Gettysburg held a slight 8-7 edge in shots. The Warriors were awarded two corner kicks compared to the Cougars’ one.
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|2019-08-30||H||vs||Eastern Lebanon County(3)||L||2-0|
|2019-09-05||A||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||W||1-0|
|2019-09-24||A||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||6-0|
|2019-09-28||H||vs||Mechanicsburg Area Senior(3)||L||2-1|
|2019-09-30||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||3-0|
Final Class AAA Power Rankings
|3||Mechanicsburg Area Senior||15-||3-||0||0.740090||0.876238||0.573688||17.7||181.4||2.5||134.8|
|5||Berks Catholic School||13-||3-||1||0.681159||0.798193||0.538118||13.3||156.7||3.4||134.5|
|26||Spring Grove Area||2-||15-||1||0.373283||0.209677||0.573246||3.3||175.7||12.3||130.8|
|27||East Pennsboro Area||2-||15-||1||0.346986||0.153631||0.583308||2.8||195.7||15.2||139.8|
|28||West York Area||2-||14-||0||0.342757||0.142857||0.587080||2.2||155.4||13.2||109.3|