Villa Maria tops North Catholic girls in PIAA semifinals

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Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | 8:16 PM


As his team surrounded him during their postgame meeting, Villa Maria girls soccer coach Pete Wagner repeated the goal his team had set at the beginning of the season.

They wanted to win a state championship.

“Now we are one step closer,” Wagner screamed as his team cheered.

The District 10 champions battled back from a one-goal deficit and both Ella Raimondi and Abby Godlewski scored two goals apiece as the Victors cruised to a 4-2 victory over WPIAL Class AA champion North Catholic on Wednesday night at Slippery Rock High School.

With their victory, Villa Maria will advance to the PIAA Class AA championship to take on District 12 champion Lansdale Catholic at 11 a.m. Friday at Hersheypark Stadium.

“This feels fantastic, but most importantly, it was a team effort,” Raimondi said. “We all gave it our 100% effort. It wasn’t any on individual. We came together as a team.”

Although the Victors came out on top, North Catholic struck within the first eight minutes of the game.

North Catholic’s Grace Billmann drove down the left side of the 18 yard box and let a shot rip from just inside the box to put the Trojanettes up 1-0. The early goal left Wagner feeling a little nervous after the first few minutes of the game.

“Watching the first three minutes, I was worried because we looked a little cold,” Wagner said. “But I knew we would break through and I was just hoping we’d get it even because I knew North Catholic was pretty tough.”

It took all of about five minutes for the Victors to respond and get back in the game. Godlewski stepped up to the occasion with a free kick from 30 yards out that found the inside of the left post.

Midway through the first half, Raimondi got in on the scoring action as well and netted a shot from just outside the 18, tucking it inside the left post, just like Godlewski.

“It happened,” Raimondi said about going down early. “We didn’t put our heads down though. We just kept playing and we got two quick goals and kept playing our style of soccer.”

After the halftime break, the Victors built on that lead and scored two goals within the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Godlewski netted her second four minutes into the half and Raimondi found the back of the net in the 48th minute.

“Once the game started to come to us after the first 15 minutes, we didn’t really need to make too many adjustments,” Wagner said. “We just needed to continue to work hard and play our game.”

With five seniors, North Catholic is a young team. Jayden Sharpless scored on an indirect free kick with six minutes remaining, but the Trojanettes couldn’t quite battle back from a two-goal deficit.

Despite the loss, coach Emily Karr and the girls soccer team established a benchmark that they will want to meet in the upcoming years. They captured their first WPIAL championship and Karr said they will want more in the future.

“North Catholic, as a school, has a tradition of competing and competing with pride,” Karr said. “We have just talked about getting this program up to that standard, and I think we fulfilled that this year. I think we can compete with some very good teams, and I think we set our standard a little bit higher.”

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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