PALMYRA – Before the year began, the Palmyra girls’ soccer team had certain aspirations, specific expectations. Right now, those Cougar hopes are coming to fruition, their goals are starting to materialize.
An open-ended, successful season is unfolding.
On a clear Wednesday night at Palmyra High School’s OAL Sports Compelx’s Belair Field, the Cougars just kept marching along, with a well-earned 3-1 triumph over Mifflin County. After it opened a 2-0 lead early in the second half, Palmyra did have to fend off some late advances by the Huskies to emerge victorious.
With the outcome, Palmyra improved to 5-2-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the Keystone Division of the Mid-Penn Conference. The Cougars were situated fifth in the latest District Three Class AAA power rankings.
The setback dropped Mifflin County to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Keystone.
“Honestly, I feel like we’re getting better every day,” said Palmyra head coach Tim Grinstead. “I think we keep raising our level of play a little bit every time out. That’s the mentality, to have zero letdowns and to keep pushing the issue with the other team.”
“Our team works well together, with no drama,” said Cougar junior goalkeeper Maggie Webb. “That’s not how it always is with high school soccer teams. Coming into the season, I was expecting a good defense. But we’re playing a lot stronger than I even expected.”
Following a tight first 30 minutes of play, the Cougars broke through for a 1-0 lead, 8:38 before halftime.
The play was originated on the right baseline by senior Maddie Julian, who flicked a short, quick touch into the middle of the Mifflin County goal mouth. Teammate Maddie Grinstead accepted the feed, worked around a defender and beat Husky goalie Bailey McNitt to the right side of the net with her right foot.
“I hadn’t been making good runs, but that time I did,” said M. Grinstead. “Maddie held it just the right amount of time. I had the goalie going one way and shot it the other. But I had a lot of time because she (Julian) held it so well.”
“I thought tonight we had good defense, but we could’ve finished a little better,” said Grinstead. “They’re (his players) starting to find patience on defense and starting to grasp what we can do on offense.”
Palmyra increased its lead to two scores 12:16 into the second half, courtesy of an own goal from the Huskies. Cougar senior Katelyn Monette made a hard run down the right side of the pitch, and when she crossed the ball from a sharp angle it bounced off a Mifflin County defender and into the net.
“This is probably the best chemistry we’ve had,” said M. Grinstead. “We have really high expectations.”
“I believe these girls can beat anybody,” said T. Grinstead. “They’re coming out and doing what they need to do. I think we work hard.”
But the Huskies were not without their dangerous chances, and one of those paid off with 16:08 remaining, when they sliced the Palmyra lead to 2-1. On a breakaway, Mifflin County senior Maddie Finkenbiner used her right foot to beat Webb along the ground inside the left post.
“I should’ve come out and taken it one-on-one,” said Webb. “The defense did everything they could on that play. Luckily, our offense gave us a safety net.”
Overall, Palmyra responded well to the Husky tally, both defensively and offensively. Then with the clock winding down, Monette pocketed the Cougars’ third goal on a 20-yarder with her right foot.
“Our defense is always awesome,” said Webb. “I’m so lucky to have them in front of me. They’re always blocking shots. They’re going to put it on the line to protect me.”
According to the final tally, Palmyra out shot Mifflin County 17-9. The Cougars also held a 6-4 advantage in corner kicks.
|2021-09-27||H||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||W||7-0|
|2021-10-14||A||vs||Bishop McDevitt (3)(3)||0-0|
|2021-10-21||A||vs||Central Dauphin East(3)||0-0|
|1||Eastern Lebanon County||8-||1-||0||0.737614||0.907216||0.530323||8.80||80.45||0.90||71.25|