TURBOTVILLE - With a big smile on her face, Warrior Run keeper Olivia George walked to the sideline with just 10 minutes ticked off the second-half clock.
It was an odd scene watching a player smile after being replaced in the middle of an important league contest.
Moments later, George returned to the field as a forward. And minutes later, George's play explained the smile as she fed a perfect ball into the penalty box for Emily Potter, who headed it home for the first of two second-half goals. George also stopped two shots on goal as the Warrior Run girls soccer team defeated Loyalsock, 2-0, at the Warrior Run Athletic complex.
"I didn't know I was going back in, but I trust the coaches. They know what they are doing," George said. "I just thought I wanted to help out the team any way I could. They were playing amazing and I just wanted to be that aid to help out."
George did more than just help out after she trotted off the field with 33:25 remaining in the second half. At 31:12, she returned as a forward. At 27:28, George lofted a short cross over the backline to Potter, who headed the ball to the far post for the game's decisive goal.
"There was a hole there and I was able to get a good touch on it and send it across to Potter," George said. "If you get it to her, she finishes it every time."
"No one has ever seen her on the field and I think they didn't know what to expect from her," Warrior Run coach Jen Allen said. "She grew up playing the field and switched over to keeper. I just wanted someone in there that was fast and could spark the team."
Moments after she helped Warrior Run (7-0, 6-0 HAC-II) take a lead, George was back in net. She stopped two of the three Loyalsock shots on goal in the second half. Mackenzie Hays stopped the other in her brief appearance.
"My heart was pounding a little bit at first," George said of re-entering the goal after assisting on the Potter score. "Once I settled down it was back to normal."
Warrior Run and Loyalsock (7-2) have decided the last two District 4 Class A champions and the Eastern representative in the PIAA championship game.
In the last five contests between the teams, the Defenders have a slight edge with a 2-1-2 record. Yesterday's 2-0 win represented the biggest margin of victory for either team over that five-game span.
After the go-ahead goal, Warrior Run continued to press with Chloe Eisenhuth supporting from the midfield. The Defenders received two shots on goal from Eisenhuth, who played a rugged brand of soccer while matching up against Morgan Chambers.
"Chambers is just a really good athlete. She's really good at heading balls," Eisenhuth said. "There were two of us on her most of the time and it was easier to battle with her. We weren't going to jump with her, but we wanted to make it so she couldn't direct balls with her head."
Eisenhuth was all over the field, bouncing between the attacking third and assisting back on the defensive side of the field. Her efforts got her two quality chances on goal in the second half. In both instances, though, Amanda Daneker, who stopped three, was up to the challenge.
"We pushed forward better in the second half, because we saw they weren't bringing as many people forward," Eisenhuth said. "We just went back a little more so we could look for the balls to come back to us and get shots off."
Despite the constant pressure from Eisenhuth and Sarah Grow, Chambers helped Loyalsock move the ball up field. Loyalsock produced a flurry of shot attempts to end the first half, and Chambers was involved with most of the pressure.
"She controls everything and dictates what happens in there," Loyalsock coach Ben Comfort said. "I don't think there are too many players that came just with her. She's just a really good tool to have on the team."
WR-Emily Potter (Olivia George), 52:32; WR-Sophie Biddle (Potter), 74:57.
Shots: L - 3, WR - 15 Shots on goal: L - 3, WR - 6 Corners: L - 4, WR - 4 Saves: L - (Amanda Daneker) 3, WR - (Olivia George/Mackenzie Hays) 2. Fouls: L - 8 WR - 9.
Records: Loyalsock 7-2. Warrior Run 7-0. Next: Shamokin at Warrior Run, Today, 4:30 p.m. Loyalsock at Southern Columbia, Monday, 4:30 p.m.