Williamsport claims 1st girls district soccer title
Two consecutive losses in the district championship game lit a bit of a fire under the Williamsport girls team, perhaps even more so for senior starters Kaylee Hornberger and Louise Lovecchio.
This was the last chance for those two. There was no more next year. It was now or never for them to claim that elusive district championship that the girls program had never obtained.
For Lovecchio, seeing the Millionaires score a goal just 11 seconds into Wednesday’s District 2-4 Class AAAA subregional championship game against Delaware Valley erased any nerves she had. The Millionaires cruised the rest of the way and can finally proudly say they’re district champions.
Williamsport defeated Delaware Valley, 4-0, at the Balls Mills Soccer Complex to win the District 2-4 Class AAAA championship, the program’s first.
“It’s been a long time and after being in the district final two years in a row, it’s kind of a relief that we finally got the gold,” Lovecchio said. “I think they definitely made us more hungry for this and I think they gave us more experience in the district final atmosphere.”
“It was nice to get revenge and win the championship,” Hornberger said.
The Millionaires will play the District 3 runner-up — either Cumberland Valley or Manheim Township — on Tuesday in the first round of the state tournament at a time and place to be determined.
The Millionaires took the lead 11 seconds into the game on a goal by Samantha Reeder, who took the opening kick and drilled a shot from inside the 18 to the left post.
“That took a lot of nerves away for me. Really made me feel better and I think it made the whole team loosen up a little bit and just started to play better,” Lovecchio said.
“That was awesome, I’m proud of Sammy. She’s a great player,” Hornberger said.
The Millionaires’ offense came through in the second half to increase the lead and seal the game. Williamsport scored three goals in the second half, including scoring twice in just a 26-second span.
Reeder scored with 23:26 to play in the second half when she got a breakaway from midfield, got past a Delaware Valley defender and got the ball around Delaware Valley goalie Stefanie O’Grady, and sending it to her left for a 2-0 lead. Madison Bowman scored off a Lauren Zangara assist with 15:31 to play to make it a three-goal lead. Less than 30 seconds later, Hannah Lewis scored off a Bowman assist to put Williamsport ahead, 4-0.
“We scored a lot more goals in second half this year and I attribute it to wearing teams down,” Williamsport coach Scott McNeill said as he held the district plaque. “Sammy and Madi put so much pressure on people, then midfield backs them up and we just wear them down. We had a lot of games where the goals came in second half, especially last five minutes. It’s just wearing them down.”
Williamsport yielded only one shot on goal from Delaware Valley, as it came late in the second half off a free kick from 30 yards out. The shot took one bounce in front of Hornberger before she easily grabbed it.
The Millionaires held a 9-1 shots-on-goal advantage.
“I’m never disappointed with their effort. I’m always proud of our effort,” Delaware Valley coach Jeff Rainear said. “We haven’t been in this situation very often, two seniors and a lot of juniors, and this is first time we’ve even advanced to district playoffs in two or three years, so it’s a growing process.”
For Hornberger, seeing the boys win a district championship prior to the girls game motivated them to do the same at home in front of an excited Williamsport crowd.
“It pumped us up. As soon as they won, we were like ‘OK, we have to win,'” Hornberger said. “We got to support them and they supported us, and that’s what helped us a lot.”
When he was hired by Williamsport, McNeill said plain and simple he wanted to bring a district championship to Williamsport. That was the goal from the first day. Consider it finally accomplished.
“We were close last two years and I’m sorry I took this long, but nice to finally have it. The program’s seemed to turn the corner now,” McNeill said. “I hope that continues over next couple years.”
“It’s really indescribable actually. It’s amazing,” Hornberger said of what it felt to earn a district medal. “I don’t know how to describe it in words honestly. It’s a great feeling.”
Delaware Valley 0
W–Samantha Reeder, 39:49. W–Reeder, 23:26. W–Madison Bowman (Lauren Zangara), 15:31. W–Hannah Lewis (Madison Bowman), 15:05.
Shots: DV 1, W 9. Corners: DV 1, W 8. Saves: DV (Stefanie O’Grady) 4, W (Kaylee Hornberger) 1.