Moon girls claim 2nd straight state title with thrilling comeback victory

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Friday, November 18, 2022 | 8:38 PM


MECHANICSBURG – There may have been easier ways for Moon to take another girls soccer state championship, but few more dramatic.

The Tigers scored twice in the last 18 minutes to win the PIAA Class 3A girls’ soccer final over previously unbeaten Upper Perkiomen on Friday evening, finishing off their own perfect season.

It was the second straight PIAA title for Moon (24-0), which won the Class 4A title last year.

Hailey Longwell started the comeback with a header off Marina Mollica’s free kick, beating Indian goalie Ava Long and evening the score 1-1 with 17:05 left in the game.

“It was a great ball across in the air,” said Longwell, a senior who also scored twice in the state semifinals against Mars. “I was fighting to get up on the end of it.”

The Tigers had a couple of corners after that, but those were fruitless as Long, who frustrated Moon with several stops early in the second half, stopped a header by Longwell to preserve the tie.

But Sydney Felton scored on a rebound with 9:31 left, getting a touch after Long stopped Kayla Leseck’s header, to put Moon up for good 2-1.

“Throughout the whole game, I felt their goalie was good at catching, but some rebounds did happen,” said Felton, a junior. “I saw the ball coming in, and I got on the back post to end it.”

In the final minutes, the Tigers ran clock by protecting the ball in their attacking corners. However, Upper Perkiomen (23-1-1) did get one odd-man rush in the final minute. But as a shot was being taken, the Indians were whistled for being offside. The shot was over the net.

Though ultimately successful, Moon was hard pressed to solve the Indians’ defense in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Though the ball was in their offensive half most of that time, shots were either going into Long’s arms, just wide of the post or, on one occasion, off the crossbar.

“We were more excited for the opportunities we were getting,” Felton said. “Yes, there was some frustration, but we knew if we could get the first goal, the second goal would come.”

There was little that could happen on the pitch that the Tigers senior class had not seen before. They beat Conestoga, 2-0, in last year’s 4A final and have won 44 of their last 46 games.

“We’ve dealt with so much adversity these last four years,” Longwell said. “We know how to fight and what we need to do to win.”

Upper Perkiomen took little time getting on the scoreboard, making the Indians only the second team to score against the Tigers since the WPIAL postseason started. Megan Cairns scored on Upper Perkiomen’s second corner of the game after just 5:28 of gameplay.

Moon pressured the Indians net for almost the whole final 15 minutes of the first half. However, Long made five of her saves before intermission, and Leseck’s shot between those stops went slightly over the crossbar.

The title was the fifth in Moon program history.

The Tigers had 13 shots on goal and 10 corners. Goalie Serayah Leech made four saves.

The Indians had five shots on goal and two corners, both in the first half. Long made 11 saves.

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