FREDERICKSBURG — Caroline Fisher’s shot was historic.
Maybe not “Shot-Heard-’Round-The-World” historic, but in Pequea Valley’s little corner of the Lancaster-Lebanon League girls soccer world, a pretty big deal.
Fisher scored the game-winning goal in the Braves’ 2-1 victory at Northern Lebanon Wednesday afternoon, securing the L-L League Section Four championship. While the history of boys soccer at PV is a long and storied one, including a state championship in 2012, the title is the first of any kind for the girls program.
“I’m at a little bit of a loss for words. They played their hearts out today,” PV coach Steve Morris said, “and it was perfect. When they rise to the occasion, to see them do what you’ve worked on, it makes you feel good as a coach.”
The occasion was a significant one, for both teams. At worst, a tie would have still brought the championship home for the Braves (9-1 league, 12-5-1 overall). The defending section champion Vikings (7-3, 11-6) needed a win to forge a three-way tie for the title with PV and Annville-Cleona.
“They had to fight for it," Northern Lebanon coach Jeff Snyder said. "It’s not like they just rolled over us."
The teams battled through a scoreless first half, with the Braves, perhaps, owning a slight advantage in opportunities.
The Vikings had the more dangerous opportunities with three free-kick restarts in the opening 12 minutes, Kacie Weaver’s header off Ella Whitman's corner kick in the 29th minute was followed by Jade Smith’s jail break with eight minutes to play, broken up by the Braves’ defense. Off the counterattack from that, Fisher got off a shot, denied by NL keeper Ashlyn Messinger (9 saves).
Six minutes into the second half, the Braves turned up the pressure and dominated the next 20 minutes.
“I told them (at the half), ‘There’s no tomorrow.’ ” Morris said.
Ironically, it was the Vikings who cracked the scoreboard first, in the 48th minute, as Erin Shuey lifted an entry volley over the defense, finished by Whitman.
Three minutes later, after a Vikings foul near midfield, PV’s Emily Diller stood over a free kick.
“I tried to put it on frame, and it got there,” she said.
The service dropped deep in the box, hitting the left post just above ground level — right where Elena Esh, studiously avoiding offsides, pounced, redirecting it across the goal mouth and into the net for her seventh league goal.
“I honestly don’t know if I affected it that much,” Esh said.
The Vikings nearly regained the lead 30 seconds later as Whitman hit the crossbar on a 45-yard free kick. But it would be the Braves who’d tally the go-ahead marker.
Playing down the left side in the 58th minute, Diller sent a beautiful ball into space.
“I knew I didn’t have any options in the middle,” she said. “I saw Caroline making that run, she anticipated really well.”
“I was calling for it,” Fisher said. “She gave me a great ball. The goalie was coming out, I cut in and I just had to put a touch on it.”
Her touch drove the ball into the corner of the net on her sixth shot of the afternoon, driving the Braves ever closer to victory.
While PV's offense was sowing opportunities and reaping goals, the defense threw a blanket over the Vikings high-scoring Hannah Tinder, who came in with 13 league goals. Tinder had all the touches she could take out between the 30s, but had one opportunity in close, off a throw-in, that was handled easily by keeper Maddie Weaver, lowering her goals against to 0.60.
“When we can get (Jade) Smith up the side, she and Tinder are pretty dangerous together, but we didn’t get that,” Snyder said. “We needed to win, and we just didn’t get it taken care of.”