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Central blanks Palmerton for 2A crown

EMMAUS - As the sun set behind the stands of Emmaus’ Memorial Field on Thursday, golden hour dawned for the Allentown Central Catholic girls soccer team.

The Vikings rose up, scoring early and getting a tough defensive effort en route to a 5-0 win over Palmerton in the District 11 Class 2A title game.

Junior midfielder Madalyn Szoke found the back of the net within the first minute, setting the tone for the top seed and defending 2A champion on both sides of the ball.

“It’s obviously a huge win,” said Central Catholic coach Rob Spatzer. “This is our fourth year in the district final. It’s special every year; it doesn’t matter how many times you’re in it, it’s a major deal.

“I was just incredibly happy with the way they played tonight. They put together a complete game. That’s a quality opponent. They had conceded few goals and were a prolific scoring team, so for us to come out on offense, defense and midfield like that, it was just a complete game. I’m really, really happy with the way we played.”

Szoke assisted on Central’s second goal, scored by Dee McMullen, to make it 2-0. The Vikings took a 3-0 lead into halftime when Sammy Roth scored on a corner sent in by Josslin Muto.

The momentum carried over into the second half when Hanna Hoeing found Meredith Eisenmann to make it 4-0 less than three minutes after the intermission.

Avery Lane made a great play to score unassisted nearly midway through the second half to push the lead to 5-0.

The Vikings held the second-seeded Blue Bombers scoreless for the first time since a 1-0 loss to Southern Lehigh on Sept. 20, and limited opportunities for an offense with no shortage of scoring options.

Still down 1-0, senior Brianna Moore - who scored over 50 goals this season - sent in a long ball midway through the first half that went off the top crossbar. Sam Perloni took a free kick within the first six minutes of the first half, but Central’s sophomore goalie Armani Brickhouse came away with a save.

The Bombers had another opportunity on a ball sent in by Moore after a free kick, but a shot from Ella Baumgardt went wide of the net and the score remained 1-0.

“It was tough to give up the goal in the first minute,” said Palmerton head coach Dave O’Brien. “But even then, I thought they stepped up. I thought we had a big burst of momentum there within the next 10 minutes or so; we got a couple of chances. We had that one hit the crossbar, and if that goes in, or if one of our other chances go in, I really think this is a different game.

“We just didn’t get the breaks when we had the chances, and then they were able to put a couple in, and we never gained control after that. That’s just how it goes, and on a stage like this, sometimes it runs away from you a little bit. But I don’t want to dwell on that. We have an incredible team.”

Brickhouse made a save midway through the second half, one of the few chances the Vikings allowed.

Despite the disappointing end, O’Brien and the Bombers have made considerable growth as a program after also reaching the Colonial League semis this season.

With the majority of its roster returning, Palmerton appears primed to be in the postseason mix for years to come.

“Losing Bri (Moore) and Isabella (Mujevic) will be huge, but we are going to return nine starters,” said O’Brien. “And we went from three wins two years ago now to 18 wins and an appearance in the district final. I think we’re on the upswing, and I think we’re going to come right back next year and have expectations to do just as well.”


... Central Catholic posted a 1-0 victory over Bethlehem Catholic in the semifinals, while Palmerton rolled to a 4-0 win over Pine Grove.


... Only one team in the Class 2A girls tournament qualifies for states. Central Catholic will play a first-round contest in the PIAA tournament on Tuesday against the champion from District 2.

Palmerton's Brianna Moore (32) and Beth Morgan (10) battle with Central Catholic's Kaycee Cadden for control of the ball. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Brianna Moore (32) of Palmerton and Hanna Hoeing of Allentown Central Catholic race for the ball. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS