Oct. 28—LEHIGHTON — Grace Evans got things started, and it didn't take long.
The Crimson Tide standout put a shot in the back of the net 36 seconds into the game, sparking Pottsville to a 5-0 shutout of Pocono Mountain East in a District 11 Class 3A girls' soccer semifinal Thursday night at Lehighton's Multi-Purpose Stadium.
As a result, the Tide will meet Southern Lehigh, a 1-0 winner in double overtime over Whitehall, next Wednesday with an opportunity to claim the program's first district crown.
This will mark Pottsville's fourth consecutive district final berth and fifth in the past six years, but the team is still working for its first title.
"It would be so huge," Pottsville coach Bob Stock said. "For the girls, for our program, you know they've worked so hard.
"Usually, when we've lost them, it's been a goal that shouldn't have happened. It would be huge for the school and the program."
Evans has been Pottsville's go-to player in the offensive end much of the season and it didn't take long for her to show the Cardinals exactly why that is.
Taking a feed from Kali Hinkle less than a minute after the game's opening touch, she pushed a shot past P.M. East keeper Lauren McLain to give the Tide a lead it would never relinquish.
Only a short while later, in the game's 13th minute, Evans converted again, this time on an unassisted goal to put Pottsville ahead 2-0.
"That's huge," Stock said. "Gracie gets us started off, puts a goal in like that and that puts them back on their heels right off the bat.
"That's hard to come back from. When you're this far along in the season, to get that one in that quick, and then to get the second one."
Pottsville's offense continued to roll. Before the first half ended, freshman Jes Siminitus, off another Hinkle assist, increased the advantage to 3-0.
"They (the offense) just played very, very well," Stock said. "They did exactly what we've been trying to tell them to do all year."
Two more goals in the second half, the first by Kailey Olenick and the second by Kelly Goodman off an Evans assist, closed out the Pottsville scoring.
On the night, the Crimson Tide put 14 solid shots on McLain as she was the Cardinals' last line of defense.
As impressive as the offense was putting the five goals on the board, the Tide defense was equally sharp.
Pottsville keeper Maya Golden was forced to make only one save over the 80 minutes and that didn't happen until the game's 62nd minute with Pottsville firmly in control. That accounted for PM East's entire shot total.
"The defense played very well, too," Stock said. "They did what we told them to do.
"Control the ball, get it up the field and watch their good girl No. 23. They just played exceptional."
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