Girls soccer falls in D-11 semi
Due to some injuries, Salisbury head coach Rick Babyak had to make a few last-minute adjustments prior to last week’s district semifinal game.
It took some time for those changes to smooth out on the field. Palisades capitalized early and then separated itself late.
The No. 2 seed Pirates (18-3-2 overall) scored in the 8th minute and added two more goals to defeat No. 3 Salisbury, 3-0, in a District 11 Class 2A semifinal game last Tuesday at Emmaus High School’s Memorial Field.
Palisades went on to defeat Central Catholic in the championship game two days later.
“It was a slow start in the first half,” Babyak said. “They popped that first goal relatively early, and that puts us on our heels a little bit. We were making adjustments throughout the game with some unfortunate injuries. We didn’t quite get that settled in initially right as we were trying to make adjustments.”
With junior defender Jenna Sartorius held out, one of those adjustments was moving sophomore midfielder Kerry Seiler into the back line.
“She played very well back there,” Babyak said. “But we need her in the middle. She counteracted their toughest player out there. She did a nice job.”
Palisades, however, didn’t let Salisbury (13-5-2) adjust and find a rhythm early. Sunny Litschauer lined up a deep shot and fired a ball over the outstretched hands of Falcon goalie Lily Schimeneck that put the Pirates in control at 1-0.
The Pirates added to that cushion nearly 20 minutes later. After an initial shot was saved by Schimeneck, Kylie Schmidt tapped in a loose ball into the net for a 2-0 lead in the 29th minute.
The Falcons, meanwhile, had just one shot on goal in the first half.
“They definitely were keying on [Rylee] Donaldson in particular,” Babyak said. “And then when we moved Erica [Holben] up, they were definitely on Erica tight as well. They still were finding some space around them and had their chances. It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t pop that one goal.”
Donaldson and Holben, however, did have their chances coming out of halftime. First, Holben ripped a shot on target but right at Pirate goalie Trinity Williams in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. Donaldson then lined up a free kick five minutes later that found its way in front of goal, but Salisbury couldn’t get a clear opportunity on net.
“I think in the second half when we decided to throw everything at them, caution to the wind and attack, we were really a lot better,” Babyak said. “We were just taking chances at that point. We left ourselves exposed a little bit, too, and we gave up that one goal because of it.”
Melissa Koch fired a left-footed shot with 18:16 to play that put Palisades in front, 3-0.
Babyak is now dealt the task of replacing a successful senior group, led by the program’s all-time leading scorer in Donaldson. A total of eight seniors will graduate from this team.
“You think about the goals from Erica and Rylee, that is going to be tough to replace,” Babyak said. “And even Alison Mizgerd, she’s such a great leader. But there is a high-quality returning group, too. We have a strong midfield yet. We have [freshman] Quinn [Wittman] up top yet. We are going to have to get some other people to score some goals.”