Amanda Daneker wasn't put to the test much, but when she was, the Loyalsock goalkeeper was prepared.
What else would be expected from a four-year starter who anchored three consecutive years of deep postseason runs. But this year, without the experience on the backline that has been a staple throughout her first three seasons in goal, Daneker has been expected to lead the backline while maintaining her dominate form. Although the season is young, she's delivered.
In Loyalsock's, 1-0, win on Thursday night over Mount Carmel, a PIAA Class A representative from a season ago, Daneker made a fully extended save on free kick from Jordan Winhofer, who elected to go right at goal from 10 yards outside the 18-yard box.
"Amanda is one of the best keepers we've ever had at Loyalsock," forward Allie Pagana said. "She helps us communicate on and off the field. She's one of our supporters and knows where everyone should be on the field."
And Daneker put those skills to use, directing players in front of the goal to form a wall on the free kick. Winhofer popped the ball over the wall, which forced Daneker to go airborne and punch the shot over the top of the goal.
Mount Carmel played a much better second half after it settled down and started to get the timing of Loyalsock's new turf field. The Red Tornadoes pushed the tempo in the second half, producing four shots, three of which were on target.
"We played a lot better in the second half than we did in the first half," Mount Carmel coach Rich Miller said. "We settled down at little bit. We got a little quicker in the second half, and I thought they just settled in a little better and got more confident."
But as the Red Tornadoes confidence grew, so did Daneker's.
Daneker, who also is a standout with the softball team, directed the backline in front of her and got teammates into position to make defensive blocks and intercept passes. And when that didn't work, Daneker simply stepped up and made a save.
"It gives a young backline, which we have out there, a lot of confidence," Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort said. "They know if they make a mistake, she is going to be there to make a big save to keep us in the game."
On the offensive end, Loyalsock was paced by a dynamic group of midfielders and forwards headed by Pagana's attacking ability.
After getting two shots on goal from a free kick called just outside of the box, Pagana displayed a level of quickness new to her game.
"Once she gets that first touch on you and gets behind you, you're not going to catch her," Comfort said. "She's got some deceiving speed and I think it's her quickness along with her speed that gets you."
The two failed shots only seemed to add to Pagana's desire, and when she intercepted a ball just past midfield, it quickly became a goal when she beat Mount Carmel's last defender and put a nice left-to-right shot on goal. The ball rolled under the outstretched hands of Brianna Lutz for the game's decisive score.
Loyalsock nearly added a second goal moments later when Asia Ungard sent a high shot to the right corner of the goal. The ball bounced off the crossbar and was quickly headed back toward the goal by Morgan Chambers. Lutz grabbed the shot, falling directly on the line and keeping the ball out by inches.
"She's played that forward role as a freshman," Comfort said of Pagana. "She had 11 goals as a freshman and nine as a sophomore and that was her third goal of the season tonight. I expect her to do that throughout the season. That's her role."
With three goals in two games, Pagana looks to be on pace to destroy her first two-year totals.
"It was important for us to get that momentum going," Pagana said of her goal less than 14 minutes into the contest. "Not only can I score, but everyone on the team is capable of scoring."
Mount Carmel is a team Loyalsock has built plenty of history with recently. After the Red Tornadoes became the third team to reach the PIAA Class A tournament out of District 4 last year, they went on to surprise a lot of people with a 5-0, opening-round win over District 11's top seed, Schuylkill Haven. After securing the win, Mount Carmel collided with Loyalsock in the quarterfinals, eventually falling in a tight, 2-0 contest.
"I was very honored to play on the this turf against this team," Pagana said. "We played Mount Carmel last year and they were very tough. They are tough every year, and they were really good tonight."
L-Allie Pagana (unassisted), 13:30.
Shots: MC 3 L 16. SOG: MC 3 L 11. Corners: MC 7 L 3. Saves: MC (Brianna Lutz) 10 L (Amanda Daneker) 3. Fouls: MC 6 L 10.
Records: Loyalsock 2-0 (2-0). Mt. Carmel 2-2 (2-2).
Next: Williamsport at Loyalsock, Saturday, 7 p.m.