Tamaqua blanks Miners in semis
Minersville came into Thursday's Schuylkill League soccer semifinal game with the best possible game plan it could come up with.
But in the end, what the Miners' head coach Scott Goines was afraid would happen did happen.
Tamaqua showed its balance and its firepower to beat Minersville, 3-0, in a playoff semifinal.
"We just figured we would key on Allison Updike who is one of their biggest playmakers and try to contain her and hope that we could play straight up on the other girls," Goines said. "But they (Tamaqua) have way too many weapons. They have scoring threats from all the way in the back to all the way up front. So we did what we could out here."
While Minersville was able to keep Updike, who was third in the league in scoring with 16 goals and six assists this season, without a goal, it was a trio of Tamaqua players who helped them get back to where they wanted to be in Saturday's Schuylkill League championship game.
"We were really disappointed when we didn't get back to the league championship (last year) to defend our title," Raiders coach Clem McCarroll said. "So, we talked about the three stages this year again - win the division, the league and then the districts. We won the division already. We're in league playoffs now and we want the title badly."
The Blue Raiders players won't be satisfied with an undefeated regular season record. They want more according to sophomore midfielder Kayla Hope.
"We wanted to come back this year and prove who we were and get revenge," Hope said. "We wanted to get back to the league championship game.
"So, it's such an exilihirating feeling to get back there."
With 20:49 left in the opening half, Kailee Rottet got the Blue Raiders on the board for a 1-0 lead.
The freshman phenom belted a shot from 25-yards that riccocheted off the crossbar straight into the Minersville net.
After holding a 6-1 edge in shots in the first half, the Tamaqua arsenal kept Minersville goalkeeper Maria Kostura busy. The Raiders fired 15 shots on goal, while they held the Lady Miners to one shot the rest of the way.
Minersville freshman keeper Maria Kostura did her best to keep the game close, but Hope and Brittney Hill were able to add second half goals.
With 33:07 left in the game, Hope took in a perfect feed from Updike and chipped it in to the back left of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Nearly 25-minutes later, it was Hope who recorded an assist on Hill's goal. From about 10 yards out, Hope fed the ball to Hill to finish off the scoring on the night.
Division I champion Tamaqua will face Division II titlist Millersburg for the rights to this year's Schuylkill League title.
The Indians opened the doubleheader with a 1-0 victory over reigning champion Halifax.
"As anyone can see, we have a lot of players who can take a lot of shots," McCarroll said. "They really take it to the net. So, if we can cash in on a few shots and play some good defense, we have a good chance against Millersburg."