BELLEFONTE >> Archbishop Wood’s season came to an end Tuesday night when the Vikings lost to Mars, 5-1, in the PIAA-3A semifinals at Bald Eagle High School.
(12-2) Wood got off to a slow start and was never able to recover, falling behind by two goals in the first 11 minutes.
“I’m proud of my girls,” Vikings coach Tom DeGeorge said. “Down 2-0 and they could have quit, but we kept pushing forward, we kept trying. It probably opened up a little more of the chance for them to score. I didn’t think it was a 5-1 game, but that’s what the score says.”
“Giving up the first two goals in the beginning always hurts and it takes us back a little bit,” Wood junior Paige Hoeger said, “but I don’t think we backed down. I think we kept fighting.”
(7-1) Mars extended its lead to 3-0 with 24:13 remaining in the second half, but Wood responded quickly with its only goal of the game to get the deficit back to two. The Vikings were awarded a penalty kick with 23:37 left and Hoeger stepped up and scored, going high right as the goalie dove to the left.
The Fightin’ Planets added two more goals to take the victory, 5-1, and head to Saturday’s state championship match against Villa Joseph Marie at 4 p.m. at Hersheypark Stadium.
Wood’s offense struggled to get anything going in the game, especially in the first half. The Vikings didn’t have a shot on goal until the 38th minute. They generated more offense after halftime — drawing the PK and putting four shots on net — but weren’t able to capitalize enough to battle back into the game.
“They had so many people behind the ball,” Hoeger said. “It almost felt like it was 8-v-3 every time. I didn’t really know where to go with the ball once we got in.”
Defensively, the Vikings struggled containing Mars forward Taylor Hamlett. The senior scored three goals — the first, second and fourth for the Fightin’ Planets. Her first was a low, hard shot from 25 yards away, her second a high shot from a tight angle along the right side and her third a good touch to get around Wood’s keeper after a race to the ball.
“(Hamlett) is just a game-changer,” DeGeorge said. “So hard to stop. She had a great game. When you know someone is a player like that and you try to take care of it and she still scores three goals, it’s tells you the caliber player she is.”
Despite the loss, it was a successful season for the young Vikings team. They posted two state wins — 7-1 over District 11 champion Southern Lehigh and 1-0 over District 3 champion Manheim Central — before falling to Mars.
“It was a great run for the kids,” DeGeorge said. “Our motto was just take one game at a time. We kept winning. We were hoping to come in tonight and go one more, but it’s the way the game goes.”
“To be honest,” Hoeger said, “from the beginning of the year to now I would never have thought that we would have made it this far. We really pushed through and we got through some tough games. We deserve to be here.”
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