LEBANON >> The Daniel Boone girls soccer team’s dreams were so close.
So they let their noses lead.
“We were on the bus and said, ‘It’s so close. It’s all in reach.’ Our famous line is ‘Can you smell the chocolate?’ because we want to go to Hersheypark (Stadium),” Kayleigh Kardos said. “This has been our dream. Daniel Boone has never made it this far, not even won one district game.”
The Blazers have done much better than that. They really can smell the chocolate now.
With the lethal weapon of Alayna Roesener’s 30-yard throw-ins in their arsenal, the senior’s heaves triggered two second-half goals and the Blazers shut down Conestoga Valley 2-0 in the District 3-AAA semifinals Tuesday night at Cedar Crest to clinch a spot in Hershey for the final on Saturday.
“To be in the district final is so awesome. Everyone is so excited,” Kardos said. “We’ve made states, we’re making all these great accomplishments for Boone and making history. Nothing is enough for us. What’s next, what’s next?”
What’s next is a meeting with District 3 juggernaut and No. 1 seed Cumberland Valley – a 2-0 winner over Cedar Cliff in Tuesday’s other semifinal – in the District 3-AAA final Saturday, 5:30 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.
A daunting task no doubt, but the No. 6 seed Blazers (16-2-2) have been making it up as they go since districts began.
“When we entered the season our goal really was to win counties and hopefully one district game,” head coach John Pantone said. “The counties thing didn’t happen. We felt the pressure. The girls were tight in that game. But after that loss they shrugged it off. I’ve never seen them be more loose, more confident (than during the district run). We decided, we’re going to go out and play these games and know any team can be beat on any night. Why not us?”
They’ve done it three consecutive district games — 3-2 over Dallastown in the first round before ousting No. 3 seed Manheim Township 2-0 in the quarterfinals, in every similar fashion.
The Blazers broke the deadlock with a Buckskins’ own goal with 17 minutes left in regulation before Kardos capitalized on a scrum at the mouth of the goal six minutes later, both created by the senior midfielder’s rare ability to create a set piece out of a throw-in.
“Teams know it’s coming. But it’s something you can hear about but until you’re able to see it and defend against it…it’s a corner kick coming in every time. It’s that advantage that we have,” Kardos said. “I’ve been playing Alayna since I was 8 or 9 and Alayna’s always a had a big throw-in and I’ve always been able to time it. It’s that chemistry that we have together.”
No. 7 seed Conestoga Valley (15-5-1), led by sophomore center back Adalee Broadbent and sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Yoder (five saves), showed their defending prowess through 60 minutes, thwarting every set piece – throw-in or corner kick.
The Blazers defense was up to the task in equal measure and more all game, center back Miranda Majewski and stopper Taylor Carroll leading the charge in front of goalkeeper Makenzie Witzel (five saves). They held CV striker Gianna Yurchak in check, with the aid of the workrate of Kardos and Roesener in the midfield and forwards Meg Breidigan and Madison Spitko.
“That was a very good defensive squad,” Pantone said of Conestoga Valley. “They didn’t give up a lot of goals all year. We practiced penalty kicks because it could have gone there, 0-0. They’re good defensively, we’re good defensively.”
Daniel Boone has shown potential over the past two seasons with much of the same lineup but knew mostly heartbreak. It happened again in the Berks County playoffs when they fell to Governor Mifflin – a team they had drawn with twice in the regular season – 3-0.
But all of that is in the rearview now.
“When we lost (last season) I turned to Alayna and said, ‘Next year is our year,’” Kardos said. “We had so much to prove and we knew our talent. Having that humbling experience at counties, it was a heartbreaking experience. But we’ve used it to our advantage.”
There’s a lesson Pantone has tried to teach for the past two years and it’s finally helped and just at the right time.
“Last year we told them ‘we have to learn how to be winners.’ The top programs go into a game and they expect to win. The programs that are learning how to be winners go in and are nervous. We showed that in counties.”
“I think the girls have finally figured out, we’re winners.”
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