With 20 minutes remaining in the second half of Wednesday night's District 11 Class AA Girls' Soccer Championship, Blue Mountain head coach Mike Burcik yelled to his team on the field, "No letdowns, Blue! You're the first to the ball!"
That kind of enthusiasm and urgency didn't seem to fit the scenario, as the Blue Eagles held a 4-0 advantage at that point, and seemingly had a solid hold on the outcome. However, Burcik knew that Tamaqua was more than capable of pulling off a comeback and potentially a win.
Regardless, the lead proved insurmountable and Blue Mountain pulled out a 5-1 win in the championship game, earning the District title.
"Tamaqua has some really good players and we knew that if we were to have any letdowns that they could have come back," Burcik reiterated following the game. "Sometimes it's necessary to remind my players to keep up the intensity."
Blue Mountain came into the meeting with only one loss their entire season and that came at the hands of Tamaqua. Nonetheless, the Lady Eagles earned the upper hand on this night and garnered the title.
The victors recorded two goals in the first half and added three more in the second, as they consistently pressured the Lady Raiders' defensive unit.
"The way we started out in the game, I thought that I liked what I was seeing and thought we definitely had a chance to play evenly with them," Tamaqua head coach Clem McCarroll said. "But they took advantage of some of their chances and put a lot of pressure on us."
In the first half, the ball traveled frequently up and down the field, as both teams wanted to retain possession.
Eventually, it was the Lady Eagles striking first, as Gabrielle Montone nailed a high shot into the net at the 25:24 mark.
For a while after that, the Raiders stepped up their game, but the Blue Mountain defense came up with some impressive stops that kept them off the scoreboard.
With just over two minutes left in the first half, though, the Lady Eagles' Jordyn Reilly booted a shot that tipped off the hand of Tamaqua goalkeeper Tanisha Farber (six saves in the game) and found the net for the 2-0 edge at intermission.
At halftime, both coaches urged their players intensely.
McCarroll bellowed, "We gotta push it! Take some shots and switch it up a little bit! Create your own chances."
Meanwhile, Burcik praised his team's efforts. "We know what it takes to do this," he yelled. "If we let down, they're gonna take advantage, so keep up the aggressive play!"
In the second half, the Blue Mountain players heeded their coach's words. With just over six minutes off the clock, Jacqueline Woleschok placed a corner kick nicely to teammate Jillian Grapsy, who headed the ball in for the 3-0 lead.
Woleschok then scored on a shot into the top left corner of the goal that was out of reach of Farber for a 4-0 lead.
Eight minutes later, another scoring opportunity presented itself, as Farber mishandled a save and Madyson Riegel put a shot into the empty net.
With about 10 minutes remaining, the Lady Raiders' Kailee Rottet put in a shot to ruin the shutout.
Blue Mountain outshot Tamaqua 16-6.