GREEN POND - Even though it seemed like it was on the defensive side more than on offense, the Tamaqua soccer team was never out of contention in Tuesday's District 11 2A first round game against host Notre Dame of Green Pond.
After a scoreless first half thanks to a brilliant defense, Tamaqua saw the Crusaders come from behind for a 2-1 win, ending the Blue Raiders' season.
The Crusaders will now travel to Colonial League rival Saucon Valley, a team it lost to by a 3-1 score during the regular season, on Thursday for a quarterfinal matchup.
"One mistake on a corner kick, sometimes that's all it takes," said Tamaqua head coach Greg Stewart when describing how the Crusaders were able to take the moment away from the Raiders after they took a 1-0 lead early in the second half. "We made a mistake and they capitalized on it."
Senior midfielder Jacob Fegley scored with 38:39 on the clock, less than two minutes after the break off a Cesar Picone assist to give Tamaqua the lead.
Whether it was a case of desperation or something else, the Crusaders quickly picked up the tempo and Ray Craft slipped one in from the left side and Gio Mowry assisted to tie it with 32:31 remaining.
Notre Dame scored the game-winner with 26:50 remaining when Cam Pierzga booted a bullet past Tamaqua goalie Tyler Cimino from dead center in front of the net off a Zach Hogan assist.
The Crusaders outshot the Blue Raiders 16-9 and time and time again Cimino and defenders Lance Williams and Eric Hertzog came up big thwarting attempts by the Notre Dame forwards and midfielders to score.
Notre Dame also had a big edge in penalty corners with 10, to just two by Tamaqua.
"We have two of the fastest defenders in the Schuylkill League," said Stewart. "Herzog and Williams are Schuylkill League first team defenders. Jake (Fegley) is a first team midfielder and (Anatoly) Dermo was named a second team forward. and our goalie (Cimino) made some beautiful saves."
Cimino made eight saves, while ND's Mike Glueckstien stopped four shots.
Hertzog, Dermo and Cimino are all juniors that Stewart will surely build around for next season.
"I'm unhappy that we lost, but we played a good game and it could have went either way," he added. "We struggled this season with injuries and finally got everybody back last week. To have everybody jell in such short time was a little difficult, but the guys that went in did a great job for us today, gave 100 percent, and it was good to see."