BIRDSBORO – First of all, let’s get something straight. Losing is never acceptable and it always hurts.
But if you absolutely, positively must lose, you want to do it the way the Palmyra girls’ soccer team did last night – with class and determination and guns blazing.
On a wild, rainy Monday night at Daniel Boone High School, the Cougars’ fall season came to an end, with a 5-4 loss to the home-standing Blazers, in the opening round of the District Three Class AAA playoff tournament. Trailing 5-1 in a torrential downpour, the Cougars rallied furiously, netting three goals in an 8:39 span late in the second half – and just missed on a couple of dangerous opportunities to tie the score.
With Daniel Boone nursing a 2-1 edge, the contest was delayed for an hour at halftime due to lightning. Then the entire second 40 minutes of play was played in heavy rain.
Maddie Julian recorded a hat trick for Palmyra, giving her ten for her senior season.
The gallant setback made tenth-seeded Palmyra’s final mark 9-8-1. Daniel Boone, the number-seven seed, moved to 14-5 overall and into Thursday’s quarterfinal round opposite the winner between Elco and Susquehannock.
“They talked all year about being relentless,” said Palmyra head coach Tim Grinstead, of his charges. “We saw that tonight. I think a lot of teams would’ve given up. If you’re going to lose, you’ve got to feel good about the way you played. We almost got it.”
“We regrouped after their third goal (in the second) half, and we kept positive and stayed up,” said Julian. “Then we regrouped again. I’m proud of the resiliency and the way we played.”
With 16:21 to go, all seemed lost for the Cougars when Daniel Boone senior Gabby Fontana scored from long distance to put her side up by four goals. But Julian’s rebound of her own penalty kick 2:23 later ignited Palmyra’s spirited comeback.
Julian’s successful conversion of a second penalty kick drew the Cougars to within 5-3 and completed her hat trick. And then with 5:19 to go, Katelyn Monette took a pass from teammate Delaney Miller and drilled a right-footer to the short side for what would be Palmyra’s final tally of the season.
“We were very close,” said Grinstead. “A couple of bounces and we could’ve tied it. It’s a great memory for these seniors. I’m proud of these girls. This is the best team I’ve coached since I’ve been here.”
“We definitely knew this was a team we could beat,” said Julian of the Blazers. “We can’t hang our heads after this game. We thought we were the better team. We got beat in a game played in the pouring rain.”
Palmyra struck first and assumed a 1-0 lead 18:35 into the match. After the Cougars missed on some good early chances, Julian accepted a feed from teammate Maddie Grinstead and ripped a 20-yard right-footer inside the left post.
But Daniel Boone scored twice in the final 19:07 of the first half, and given the ominous weather forecast, Palmyra to went to the locker room facing a 2-1 deficit and unsure if they would ever re-emerge.
“That was hard,” said Grinstead. “We were wondering if we were ever going to go back out there.”
“We definitely kept it upbeat,” said Julian.
But when the lightning relented, the Blazers came out and potted three goals over the first 23:39 of the second half to open a 5-1 lead.
“Defense has been our strong suit all season,” said Grinstead. “We certainly didn’t expect to give up five goals. Some of them were fluky.”
“Most of their goals were scored off set pieces,” said Julian. “Sometimes that’s out of your control. If we would’ve defended their set pieces a little better it might have been a different outcome. I don’t think a lot of their goals were earned.”
In the final tally, Daniel Boone out shot Palmyra 19-14. The Blazers held a slight 4-3 edge in corners kicks.
|2021-09-27||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||7-0|
|2021-10-14||A||vs||Bishop McDevitt (3)(3)||W||1-0|
|2021-10-21||A||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||9-0|
|2***||Eastern Lebanon County||13-||2-||0||0.726665||0.875776||0.544417||14.10||131.15||2.00||109.75|