LEBANON — In the wake of Elco’s 3-0 victory over Lewisburg on Tuesday in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A girls state soccer playoffs at Cedar Crest, the question begged an answer.
How much did last year fuel this year’s result?
“A little bit, for sure,” said Raiders' coach Derek Fulk.
“For me, a lot,” said Cassie Johnson who, in the 10th minute, accomplished what the Raiders could not in 110 minutes of an eventual 0-0, 4-2 PK upset loss to Lewisburg in 2018 — score a goal.
“I watched (that) game to the very end of the school year,” she said. “I feel, last year we should’ve won, so this year, I was like, ‘We need to beat this team.’ ”
Their victory allows them to move on to Saturday’s quarterfinals. There they will meet the winner between Lansdale Catholic and St. Basil Academy, site and time to be determined.
Johnson scored on a 26-yard free kick from the right wing, sending the kick high into the left corner.
Whether it was a shot, or a cross ... “We were looking to go that way,” Johnson said. “I was looking for a diagonal so someone could run in on it.”
Instead, the Raiders (17-4-2) ran back to the center circle with the lead.
A lead they zealously defended as the Green Dragons (16-6-1) spent most of the first half in Elco’s defensive end, creating but failing to score.
“We just had to work really hard, make sure (of) our marks in the back and on the wings,” Johnson said.
“I didn’t think we created a ton of good chances,” Fulk said. “We had three fantastic set pieces.”
Five minutes into the second half, off another Lewisburg foul, Katelyn Rueppel stepped to a 25-yard free kick, dead center in the middle of the field.
She placed it high in the left corner of the goal to double the Raider advantage and, with just over 12 minutes left, Lilliana Collins iced the victory, pouncing on a loose ball at the left post and poking it home.
“I’m not used to being in there for everything,” she said, “It was the right place at the right time.”
From the left flag Natalie Swingholm addressed the Raiders’ sixth of seven corner kicks, sending it to the post where Johnson thought she had kneed it in.
“I was like why isn’t the net moving?” said Johnson.
Likely because Dragon keeper Lauren Gross got a hand on it as she fell to the turf.
She couldn’t recover in time to stop Collins’ second goal of the year. Or stop the Raiders. This year.