Rising up to the challenge, Moon girls soccer team wins 1st Class 4A state title
Friday, November 19, 2021 | 7:21 PM
HERSHEY – Moon has a new trophy, and it may look a touch different from the ones the Tigers earned in the past.
With a 2-0 victory over Conestoga on Friday night, Moon won the PIAA Class 4A girls’ soccer championship. The last time the Tigers (20-1-1) won the state title, they were still a 3A team, taking back-to-back championships in 2016-2017.
Coach Bill Pfeifer had been the coach of those teams as well, and after a three-year hiatus, returned to guide the Tigers back to the top of Pennsylvania soccer. He said the team stayed at the same hotel, trained on the same fields and even visited Chocolate World, just as the 2017 champions had.
“The kids bought into what we wanted to do,” Pfeifer said. “Three months ago, we just wanted to get through our section.”
Sydney Felton, one of the goal scorers in the finals, said she was happy to not only get the gold medal, but share the experience with Pfeifer.
“I’ve known him forever,” Felton said. “It was great to have him here with all the girls to win this.”
Moon broke through with 18:17 left in the first half. Hailey Longwell was tackled 21 yards from the net and the Tigers were rewarded with a free kick. Kayla Leseck took the kick and hit the crossbar. The ball ricocheted into the box, where Elizabeth Hoff got a touch before Felton put it in. It was the first goal Conestoga (18-5-2) allowed during the state tournament.
Serayah Leech protected that lead in the first half, putting herself in perfect position to make a calm save of Megan Daly’s 22-yard free kick with a 11:40 left before intermission.
The closest Conestoga got to evening the score was midway through the second half, when Haliegh Wintersteen’s header on a corner was just over the crossbar.
Leseck gave Moon some insurance with a goal after the Pioneers failed to clear the ball out of danger. Her lifted shot from 10 yards away went into the left side of the net to put the Tigers ahead 2-0 with 17:02 remaining in the contest.
“We said we wanted a second goal,” Leseck said. “Hailey set me up with a perfect ball. I just kept running and hoped for the best.”
Moon had only a few other scoring chances apart from the goals, though Longwell and Hoff combined to pressure the net in the opening minute of the second half. A dangerous shot was stopped, and the rebound rolled into an unoccupied area of the box.
What little chance the Pioneers still had after that was erased by Marina Molica, who stopped a surge up the right side by Elli Mayock with 10 minutes to go. After that surge was short-circuited without a shot, it was only a matter of time for Moon to get its gold medals.
“There were two minutes left, and it was time to wait for it to finish.” Leseck said.
It was unclear if it was deliberate or not, but as Moon took its team picture with the trophy and a giant Hershey chocolate bar, “Eye of the Tiger” played over the Hersheypark Stadium PA system.
Leech had five saves in the shutout.
Moon finished with four shots on goal, winning despite no corners. Conestoga had five shots on goal and three corners. Margaret Steege made two saves.
More High School Soccer Girls• WPIAL girls soccer players lauded with All-America, all-region, all-state honors
• WPIAL boys earn All-America, all-region, all-state soccer accolades
• A-K Valley Senior Spotlight: Kiski Area’s Maxine Crosby
• Moon’s Hailey Longwell wins Moe Rosensteel Award
• From 2 wins to reaching the state playoffs, Latrobe girls soccer team reflects on success