D-11 GIRLS' SOCCER: Pine Grove advances to Class A final

Oct. 28—LEHIGHTON — Pine Grove is taking direct aim at a sixth District 11 girls' soccer championship.

Hannah Aungst and Mia Jefferson saw to that.

The Cards' knockout defense saw to it, too.

With a 1-0 Class A semifinal victory over No. 5 seed Northern Lehigh on Thursday evening at Lehighton's Multi-Purpose Stadium, top-seeded Pine Grove (17-3-1) earned the right to face No. 2 Moravian Academy (12-5-1) in next Wednesday's championship game. Moravian defeated Williams Valley 2-0 in the Thursday's other semifinal.

Pine Grove last won a girls' soccer district title in 2016 in Class AA. The Cards also won Class AA titles in 2004 and '05, and won Class A titles in 2014 and '15.

"This would be the sixth for the program, but the first for me and these girls," Pine Grove coach Andy Haas said. "It would mean more than anything."

Both teams battled through a sluggish first half, each managing only one shot on goal and neither even threatening much more than that.

The second half, especially for Pine Grove, was much different.

The Cards put four more shots on frame with a much more intense offensive attack. And, while the Pine Grove offense became much more of a threat, the defense held the Bulldogs without another shot on goal.

"First half was ... well, not good," Haas said. "Second half was much better.

"We made the adjustments we needed to make and the kids played great. They played a lot better. It was heart."

The game-winning goal — the only goal — came in the 58th minute when Jefferson crossed a ball in front of the the goal. Aungst got a foot on the ball and put it past Bulldogs' keeper Dekotah Barthold.

"It was two evenly matched teams," Northern Lehigh head coach Jason Reinhard said. "We had a lot of kids on the field who don't have a lot of experience. We got burned on that one rush and that was it.

"They were just a bit more aggressive in the second half than we were."

Northern Lehigh's only shot on goal came inside the final minute of the first half, when on a free kick from about 35 yards out, Caitlin Kirk blasted a ball that Cards' keeper Taylor Ott leaped high to reach and knocked away.

"Our defense was stellar," Haas said. "We're young.

"We have a lot of new faces in the back. We only have one starter from last year in the back right now. But, we always talk about defense wins championships and everything they did today was great. We shut down two good scorers that they have."

Even after what turned out to be the game-winning goal, Haas wanted another. He wanted a cushion that never came to be, but was pleased with the effort his young squad put forth while playing a district semifinal game with injured starters Viktorya Luckenbach and Jocelyn Hikes not in the lineup.

"We're down two starters, Viktorya (Luckenbach) and Jocelyn Hikes both being injured," Haas said. "Freshmen had to step up.

"I'm very demanding of them. They made the corrections they needed to made, and they finished out hard. This is just a huge, huge confidence builder."

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