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Williamsport girls win fifth consecutive District 2-4 Class AAAA championship

Williamsport won its fifth consecutive District 2-4 Class AAAA girls soccer title Saturday. The championship came without a postgame medal ceremony, per District 2 rules this year, but after five of these things the Millionaires are looking for more anyhow.

No, this team would like to break through and win its first PIAA playoff game, to be held next weekend at a time and place to be determined vs. the District 11 champion. The No. 4 seed Millionaires earned that berth by beating No. 6 seed Hazleton, 5-0, Saturday at Balls Mills Soccer Complex.

Kailee Helmrich scored a career-high four goals, including one off a penalty kick in the first minute for Willamsport (9-5-2). It was unclear if this was a District 2 title game individual scoring record. Helmrich is a junior on a roster featuring two seniors, and none of them know anything other than seasons that end with district gold medals. While there was no ceremony Saturday, players were to receive the medals later on.

“This is a really good year for us,” said Helmrich. “We weren’t sure we were going to have a season, we dealt with bumps on the way, but we’ve been motivated and on a win streak now. We were a fourth seed and we have motivation going into states this year.”

The first score put Hazleton (2-12) into an early hole and it never really recovered. Helmrich scored all four goals in the first half before Mallory Pardoe added one in the second half.

“Defensively, we picked it up in the second half and didn’t let the through runs happen,” said Hazleton coach Jim Paisley, who said his team backpedaled too much with balls in the air. “The offsides trap was working well, we didn’t work on it but the girls picked it up and we started playing better with the balls to the feet. In the first half, we were kicking it around.”

Helmrich’s second and third goals, midway through the first half, came as she broke through defensive seams with shots on a wide-open goal. Her last one came in similar fashion just before the half, but with an assist from Pardoe. Pardoe rolled in her goal at the 63rd minute.

Millionaire coach Scott McNeill has led the entire five-year run, building improvement with winter workouts that included middle schoolers and a summer league, though the latter didn’t happen this year. And losing would-be senior Katie Penman to an early college soccer enrollment added a little more uncertainty, but a culture built over time held up.

Williamsport will enter states on a 6-0-1 run, outsourcing the opposition 17-1 in that time. The last loss was Oct. 10 at Lewisburg.

“People said we weren’t going far with just two seniors and some injuries and everything else,” said McNeill. “We just put the time in and the work, and you enjoy being with these young ladies who are dynamite.”

Those two seniors are Hannah Myers and Violet Lindsay.

“It’s really nice for our seniors this year to keep the tradition going, and it gives us an extra boost,” said Helmrich. “Hopefully, we succeed in states. It’s really exciting and a lot of energy comes from it.”

Williamsport 5, Hazleton 0

(District 2-4 Class AAAA championship)

W-Kailee Helmrich (penalty kick) 2:00. W-Helmrich 18:00. W-Helmrich 31:00. W-Helmrich (Mallory Pardoe) 38:00. W-Pardoe, 63:00.

Shots: W 7, H 6. Corners: W 2, H 0. Saves: W 5 (Adelia Engel, Sarah Spring), H 2 (Caitlyn Katchur).

Records: Williamsport (9-5-2), Hazleton (2-12). Next game: Williamsport vs. District 11 champion, TBD, Saturday.

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