Mars captures 2nd PIAA title with win over Villa Joseph Marie
Saturday, November 16, 2019 | 6:14 PM
HERSHEY — During a preseason workout, Mars girls soccer coach Blair Gerlach told his players they would need to get a little bit stronger because Hershey’s chocolate is pretty heavy.
On Saturday, at Hersheypark Stadium, the Fightin’ Planets got to put those muscles to use as they lifted the PIAA Class AAA trophy — along with a 5-pound Kit Kat bar — over their heads after beating Villa Joseph Marie, 1-0, to secure their first state title since 2011.
“At the start, I can admit we all looked at him and we were like that’s pretty far away,” junior midfielder Ellie Coffield said. “But I am just so glad that he was speaking the truth, and I’m happy that he did so.”
With 6 minutes to go in the first half, captain Caroline Wroblewski freed up Taylor Hamlett into space and just like she has for her team all year, the senior captain buried her shot into the back of the net for the lone goal of the game.
“It all happened so fast,” Hamlett said. “Carol deflected the ball and it got through, and I just poked it into the goal. I saw the goalie coming, and I just tried to get something on it to get it past her.”
Although it was the only goal of the game, the two teams battled throughout. The Jems (21-3-1) created their fair share of chances, but time and time again the leaders for the Fightin’ Planets (22-0-1) rose to the occasion.
Coffield played standout defense in the midfield, goalie Courtney Lisman made a couple of clutch saves and Gerlach said the entire team made plays when needed.
“This was a full team effort, regardless of what stats say,” Gerlach said. “They are selfless, they just get after it every day and they definitely earned this.”
In 2011, Gerlach led the Fightin’ Planets to this stage, and they claimed a 1-0 win over Villa Joseph Marie to capture the first state title in program history.
Talk about déjà vu, right? Well that wasn’t the only thing that was identical to that game eight years ago.
“We sat on the same bench, we defended the same side in both halves and we had 10 minutes of having to weather the storm at the end of the game,” Gerlach said. “It couldn’t have been any more similar.”
It doesn’t stop there either. Both this year’s team and the 2011 team entered the state championship with an undefeated record and one tie. Mars also scored about 10 minutes earlier in 2011.
It seemed as though the likeness between the two seasons gave the Fightin’ Planets a little extra confidence on Saturday.
“I’m pretty superstitious, and it’s clean don’t worry, but I’ve had the same outfit on for every game,” Gerlach said. “It’s one of those situations where when we showed up here I told the girls that we got the same bench, and they all looked at me and said ‘here we go.’ It was almost like they knew it.”
Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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