Olympians defeat Salisbury on PKs
Nicole Carroll (33) of Jim Thorpe tries to control the ball as Salisbury’s Quinn Wittman applies defensive pressure. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
ALLENTOWN — Heidi Washel didn’t feel comfortable enough to take one of Jim Thorpe’s first five penalty kicks on Thursday night. But with the Olympians and Salisbury tied 4-4 after those kicks, Jim Thorpe would need to send out at least one more player.
Washel then had a change of heart that kept Jim Thorpe’s season alive. The junior defender punched in the decisive penalty kick, and goalie Kate Bos saved Salisbury’s ensuing shot to lift the No. 6 seeded Olympians over the No. 3 seed Falcons in the District 11 Class 2A girls soccer quarterfinals.
“It was a debate between me and [Nikki Ivan] for who would take the kick,” Washel said. “A lot of girls on the team wanted me to go take it, and I was pretty confident. I was calm, but also had some nerves. I just went out there and knew what I had to do—put it low into the corner.”
Maybe Washel knew it would take more than five kicks and her time to shine would come on shot No. 6.
“She was nervous about it and didn’t go in with the starting five, which I was a little surprised of,” head coach Tom Condly said. “I discussed it with the girls, and I told them it’s more of a mental thing than a physical thing. Who feels like they could get it done? It was between her and a couple of other kids, and we just settled on her.”
Nicole Carroll, Lauren LeKites, Kelli Hogarty and Lydia Wallace all scored on penalty kicks to catapult the Olympians into the semifinal round.
Through regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods, Jim Thorpe’s defense shined and kept Salisbury scoreless despite plenty of chances on goal.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Salisbury’s Kerry Seiler had a header opportunity on goal that Bos was able to punch out of harms way in the 53rd minute. Then, with just under 20 minutes left on the clock, Bos picked up another one of her seven saves when Molly Foust lined up a solid opportunity on goal from 25 yards out.
“Our team does a really good job of getting back on defense and covering for each other,” Washel said. “And we all know how to get down in our defensive stance and not over-commit. It really helped to keep the shots low on our goalkeeper, and she’s really good.”
The Falcons’ leading scorer, Quinn Wittman, had her chances in both the end of regulation and early in the first overtime session. A left-footed strike in the 86th minute sailed just a few feet over the crossbar. She then fired a shot on net in overtime, which deflected off an Olympian player and hit off the right goal post.
“Our defense has been phenomenal all season,” Condly said. “That’s our 10th shutout in 19 games. We always have played solid defense. The difference with us this year is we have goal scoring. But give credit to Salisbury; we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
After a bit of a slow start offensively, the Olympians clearly had their chances as well. Lydia Wallace had an opportunity in the 56th minute that bounced off the cross bar and in front of Salisbury’s goal to no avail.
LeKites then crossed a nice ball in front of the Falcons’ net midway through the first overtime, but Infinity Macturk could not get a foot on the loose ball to put pressure on Salisbury goalie Lily Schimeneck.
“We feel like we can play with anybody,” Condly said “And we’ve never changed that mindset. We’re really young, but we’re extremely talented, hard working and tough. I think you saw that tonight—both mentally and physically tough.”
WHAT’S AHEAD ... Jim Thorpe will take on No. 2 Central Catholic in the semifinals round next Tuesday. Game time and location are yet to be determined.
MAKING HISTORY ... Thursday’s victory was the first playoff win in program history for the Jim Thorpe girls’ soccer team. The Olympians have also crossed a number of milestones during their 12-win season thus far. The last time the Olympians qualified for postseason soccer was back in 2013. “This is the first time Jim Thorpe won a playoff game,” Condly said. “This is our 12th win, and that’s a record. The 10 shutouts are, too. Everything we’re doing is a record.”