Freedom girls soccer settles for 2nd at PIAA championship

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Friday, November 16, 2018 | 1:27 PM


HERSHEY — In its quest to win its first PIAA title, the Freedom girls soccer team led for more than 55 minutes in the Class A final against Southern Columbia.

However, the Bulldogs trailed at the time when it mattered most: at the end of overtime.

Southern Columbia defeated Freedom, 3-2, in overtime to win its first state championship in program history.

The deciding goal was scored by Sami Palacz 13 minutes, 47 seconds into the extra frame. After a corner was touched in the box and hit the cross bar, Palacz redirected the ball back into the net for the game-winner.

“Those golden goals, you never know what’s going to happen,” Freedom coach Colin Williams said.

The Bulldogs (23-2) had one quality shot in the overtime. Jayden Sharpless’ shot from 25 yards out sailed slightly high two minutes into the period. After that, the action was either in the midfield or in Freedom’s defensive third.

Sharpless opened the scoring 12:40 into the contest when she scored from 25 yards out, nearly the same place that she tried to score in overtime. Her first-half shot went high and to the left into the net, out of the reach of Southern Columbia goalie Rilyn Wisloski. Michaela Watkins assisted.

The Bulldogs nearly increased their lead a few minutes later when Alexsia Barlamas got a touch just a few feet from the goal line. But this time Wisloski was in position to clear the ball away.

The best scoring chance Southern Columbia (20-4-1) had in the first half was on a corner with nine minutes to go before halftime. Jill Marks got a clean touch on a header, but it went wide right of the net.

In the middle of the second half, both sides had scoring chances go awry.

First, Southern Columbia’s Sami Palacz got a touch in the box during a corner. The ball bounced off of two other players before rolling out of bounds for a goal kick.

A minute later, Myla Sharpless appeared to give Freedom a 2-0 lead when she tipped in a pass with 20:18 to play. But she was ruled offsides. Williams said he was not sure why the play was ruled offsides and that he would check recordings later on.

“I think it really deflated us a bit,” Williams said.

That non-goal set up Morgan Marks’s tying goal for Southern Columbia with 16:26 remaining. She pushed the ball across the goal line after it deflected off of a Freedom defender. Morgan Cole had a cross from the right side for the assist.

“It was tough,” Williams said. “We knew they were pushing on us.”

Both teams scored late to set up the overtime. Watkins scored an unassisted goal with 13:59 to put Freedom up 2-1. The senior hesitated in the box to set herself and lift the ball into the net.

Maggie Morrison evened the score for Southern Columbia with 7:47 to play with a 30-yard strike into the wind.

Freedom had a 9-8 edge in shots on goal. However, Southern Columbia had all eight corners in the game.

Kassandra DePoppe made five saves. Wisloski had seven stops.

David Bohr is a freelance writer.

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