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Palmerton rolls into Colonial semis

It wasn’t so much a matter of if the goals would come.

Simply when.

Palmerton’s prolific offense didn’t take long to open the scoring in Tuesday’s Colonial League girls’ soccer quarterfinals, putting up two goals in the first eight minutes en route to a 5-0 win over Saucon Valley.

Brianna Moore buried the first of her three less than two minutes in, and Sam Perloni connected off a free kick not even six minutes later to send the third-seeded Blue Bombers on their way to a semifinal matchup against No. 2 Southern Lehigh.

“That was kind of a focus for us,” Palmerton head coach David O’Brien said of the fast start. “We wanted to get the energy up right away and kind of set the tone, and I’m glad that we were able to do that.”

The Bombers (17-2-0) controlled the pace and possession for much of the first half, and held a 4-0 edge in corners at the break.

Beth Morgan scored on an assist from Emma Martinez with 2:40 remaining in the first half.

Moore made it 4-0 going into the intermission with her 50th goal of the season 0:29 later.

“Finding the net early on is really big for us,” said Moore. “We don’t have to play catch up then. So we like to always score a lot of goals early on and just keep control of the game. We were able to find four goals in the beginning of the half, and we had a lot of momentum going into halftime.”

Moore nearly scored with a header off a corner earlier in the first half, but the ball appeared to hit the post.

She finished off the hat trick - and collected her 51st goal of the season - with 9:20 to play in the second half.

“Obviously you always got to have an eye on Brianna Moore when she’s out there,” said Panthers’ head coach Trent Seibert, whose team had just one win a year ago. “She’s a force. She’s not only a scorer, she’s a passer and a distributor, which is really unique and great to have on a team. We tried to keep an eye on her wherever she was on the field, because things are going to happen when she has the ball.”

No. 6 seed Saucon Valley (8-9-0) found its footing in the second half, generating two corners early and finding the better of the play.

Like Moore, freshman Ava Riehl has been a scoring threat for the Panthers all season, putting up 23 goals and six assists.

But Palmerton’s defense was able to fend off any attacks, and goalie Emma Snyder preserved the shutout.

“Their offense is their strong suit,” said O’Brien. “And Ava is a fantastic young player. I’m really happy with our defensive effort tonight. We were able to neutralize her for the most part. She had a couple of runs on us. But I’m thrilled with our defense, I’m thrilled with Emma (Snyder). She had a great game tonight.”

Whether it’s on offense or defense, the Blue Bombers have been firing on all cylinders this season.

“Our team chemistry this year is fantastic,” said Moore. “We’re all really close girls, and from the start we just found that click. And we’ve been using that through all of our games this season. Without each other, we wouldn’t be able to make it this far.

“Our team work, and our hard work, has really pushed us to come this far in the season.”

What’s next is a chance at redemption against Southern Lehigh. The Spartans handed Palmerton its last loss, 1-0, on Sept. 20.

The Blue Bombers will have plenty of momentum heading into their semifinal matchup.

“We’ve had such a fun year,” said O’Brien. “I’m really thrilled and proud with how they’ve worked this year. And then to come out and get off to such a good start in this game and play so well tonight, really means a lot going into Thursday.”


... Palmerton and Southern Lehigh will play at Catasauqua’s Alumni Field Thursday at 5 p.m. The finals are scheduled for Saturday.


... Since their loss to Southern Lehigh, the Blue Bombers have gone 10-0, outscoring opponents 50-8.


... Palmerton posted a 5-1 win against Saucon Valley on Oct. 9. In that contest, Moore scored four goals. That performance helped her break the school record for goals in a single season, topping the previous mark of 44, which was held by Monica Wood.

Palmerton's Brianna Moore (32) shields the ball from Saucon Valley's Sage Spohn. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS