Entering Tuesday night's state playoff game, the Tamaqua girls' soccer team had just one loss on the year.
Unfortunately for the Lady Blue Raiders, their second loss turned out to be the season-ender.
The defending AA state champs in the Montoursville Warriors blanked Tamaqua 5-0 at Pleasant Valley and put an end to a great 2009 campaign by the Raiders. Although the Warriors started just three seniors along with eight underclassmen, their speed was exceptional and it showed on the scoreboard.
"I was surprised by (Montoursville's) quickness," said Tamaqua head coach Clem McCarroll. "I knew they were the defending state champs, but we came in pretty relaxed. We didn't want to use that as an excuse and say these guys were so great. We just wanted to play our game. But they were quick at almost every position. You could see it with how they were winning balls.
"At halftime I told the girls we needed to gain some respect. I think we came out strong early in the second half and got some shots - we just couldn't put them in. You don't get many free shots against a team like this."
The contest was very physical throughout and it was evident early on. Within the first two minutes of play, Montoursville was awarded a penalty kick after being tripped in the box. However, the shot went wide to the left and the Raiders managed to escape disaster.
"It is a whole different ball game," McCarroll said. "When you win a state title like they did, you play at a different level. You are used to being in the playoffs and you don't panic or back down."
It didn't last for long, as the Warriors' Leah Winner scored her first of two goals at the 37:32 mark. She broke free down the left side and had her shot go off of Tamaqua goalie Chey Bates' fingertips and into the net. Winner would add the fifth and final goal midway through the second half.
Her teammate, Lana Spitler, also scored twice. She scored the Warriors' second goal of the night 12 minutes after Winner's first tally when she headed in a rebound. Spitler added the third goal at the 27:10 mark of the second half to put Montoursville up 3-0.
Brianna Spitler had the fourth goal two minutes after her sister's second goal, as she fired a shot from roughly 25 yards out that sailed over Bates' arms and into the net.
Montoursville controlled nearly every aspect of the game, as it led in shots (21-3) and corners (9-3). Tamaqua never gave up though, as the Warriors continued to pepper Bates late in the game to no avail. Bates finished with 13 saves.
The Raiders end their season with a 19-2 overall mark and a District 11 AA championship. Their only two losses came in the Schuylkill League final and then on Tuesday night.
After making it to the state quarterfinals last year, McCarroll believes his program is here to stay.
"We are still happy," said McCarroll. "We went undefeated in the regular season and won our second district title in a row.
"We expect to make states every year. That's something that we pride the program with. We don't feel a decline coming. We feel that we are going to be on the rise. We played a lot of underclassmen. Not all of them started, but they played key roles."