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Palmerton falls to So. Lehigh in OT

CATASAUQUA – Lady Fortune frowned on one team and smiled on another.

In a do-or-die Colonial League girls soccer semifinal round game on Thursday, Palmerton and Southern Lehigh exchanged blows for 80 minutes without deciding a winner.

It took overtime, but ultimately it was the Spartans who survived.

Lauren Meinhold booted the game winner into the back of the net to secure a thrilling 3-2 victory, sending Southern Lehigh into Saturday afternoon’s title fray back here on the turf of the newly remodeled Catasauqua Middle School Stadium.

.“I’m incredibly proud of our effort, this is a tough one,” said Palmerton coach Dave O’Brien. “To play that hard and to have this result …”

Palmerton was flying up and down the field, and that hustle presented them with an early one-goal advantage when Beth Morgan took a rebound off a missed shot and promptly delivered a strike past Southern Lehigh goalkeeper Meghan Conron.

The thrill of the score with 3:29 showing in the opening half lifted the Bombers spirits, for sure. The Morgan score was the result of Nataly Walter’s’ attempt at a shot, which was defended by Southern and bounced in the right direction of Morgan who instinctively kicked it into the net.

“We were ready for this game,” O’Brien said confidently. “We thought after the first game against them (a 1-0 Spartan win back on Sept. 20), that we can play right with them. We had no doubt coming into this game that we could beat this team.”

There was 19:26 to play in the contest, when Southern got the equalizer off the foot of Kendal Zuk

“Our kids were poised, they held on and made it happen,” said Southern Lehigh coach Andrew Filler. “I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if we could have played much better in the second half.”

Despite the Spartans’ second half surge, Palmerton never backed down.

The Bombers answered right back as Ella Baumgrdt surely seemed like the hero when she knocked the second Palmerton goal through the pipes, less than two minutes after the tying Southern score.

Baumgrdt’s came with 17:51 left in regulation.

“Every player on this team had moments,” O’Brien said. “I can’t say enough about how hard we played, and how much heart we had.

“That go-ahead goal was huge. I thought we would hold on.”

But the Spartans once again answered when Carina Schell knocked home the tying score at 16:11. It was set up on a corner kick and Schell was in the right place at the right time.

Both teams had chances to get the game-winner down the stretch, but both the Bombers’ Emma Snyder and the Spartans’ Conron made a couple of big saves in goal.

Snyder made another fantastic save at the 11:30 mark in overtime to keep her team in the hunt, but Lady Fortune would eventually be swayed in the direction of Southern Lehigh sending it into the championship round.

BY THE NUMBERS … Southern Lehigh had a 14-7 advantage in shots. Snyder turned away 12 shots in the Bombers goal while Conron made five saves for the Spartans.

ANOTHER DAY … The Blue Bombers will now await the start of the District 11 tournament next week.

FANTASTIC FACILTY … Catty is showing off its new digs. The all-season turf is impressive and the entire complex is as well.

HE SAID IT …”The way we’ve been playing I think we have every chance in the world to win districts.” said O’Brien.