WHITEHALL – Eighteen seconds.
That's how long it took for Parkland's lead to grow from tenuous to enormous.
Mathematically, Morgan O'Brien's lighting quick strike to open the second half only doubled the Trojans' 1-0 halftime lead. But in reality, the goal increased Parkland's chances exponentially.
With the Trojans dominating possession and play from the opening whistle, Pleasant Valley never had a chance to recover from O'Brien's deflating goal.
Parkland went on to post a 3-0 victory in the District 11 Class AAA soccer semifinal. The win sends the Trojans into Thursday's district title match against Nazareth at 7 p.m. at Whitehall. Meanwhile, the loss ends the Bears' season one step short of a PIAA State Tournament berth.
"That was a huge goal by Morgan to start the second half," said Parkland coach Al Haddad. "We talk to our kids all the time about how important the first five minutes and the last five minutes of each half are because a score in those situations can just take an opponent's heart away."
Bear coach Tim Hinton also called O'Brien's goal huge.
"They came out at halftime and caught us … I don't know what it was, but you can't have a lapse like that against a team as talented as Parkland," said Hinton. "You make a mistake and they make you pay."
Although Parkland outshot Pleasant Valley 8-1 in the opening half and had a huge edge in field position and time of possession, it was only able to capitalize once. That came with 9:48 left in the half when freshman Camille Roberts rifled a shot into the roof of the net.
"We knew we weren't going to be able to dominate play against them," said Hinton. "But we wanted to keep it close and then pick a spot where we hit a runner and maybe catch them for a quick goal.
"I felt we were in position to do that at halftime. But their second goal changed the entire complexion of the game. Needing to get two goals back on them is a very difficult task."
That job became impossible with 8:36 left in the game when O'Brien scored her second goal – this one off a scramble in front of the net to make it 3-0.
"We knew Parkland's talent level and we knew how fast they play," said Hinton. "You put them on this type of [artificial] surface and they are even that much more dangerous.
"I thought [goalie] Jackie [Guiliano] did a nice job. She made some great saves and kept us in the game for a long time.
"But you can only do so much against the constant pressure they were applying. Eventually when you get as many good chances as they got you're going to score some goals."
The loss ends the Bears' season at 15-5-1.
"Overall, I thought the season was a success," said Hinton. "We had to replace a number of key players from last year's team and we did that well enough to win another Mountain Valley Conference championship.
"But we need to take that next step. We need to be able to come down here and beat the Lehigh Valley Conference teams. That's the goal our program has to reach."