KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Salvo after salvo was turned away.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
A shot off the crossbar. Another off of a post. A series of difficult saves.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
But it was the just a matter of time for the Karns City girls soccer team. Just a matter of time before …
(Pictured above, the Karns City girls soccer team celebrates a playoff victory.)
The Gremlins scored five goals in a span of just six minutes in the first half after Ridgway’s defense and freshman keeper Sara Zameroski had kept Karns City in check with just one goal in the first 31 on the way an 8-0 victory in the District 9 Class A quarterfinals on Monday night.
“Things were working, we just weren’t finishing on the end of it,” said senior forward McKenna Martin, who scored three goals during the flurry. “Whenever things start connecting, everyone’s in a good mood. Everyone’s upbeat and happy and even if we make mistakes, it doesn’t mater.”
Karns City coach Tracy Dailey didn’t necessarily like the relatively slow start her team got off to in this first playoff game.
She liked the onslaught of goals that came later, though.
The Gremlins are capable of such outbursts with strong offensive weapons at forwards and in the midfield.
They all shined against Ridgway.
Lyrik Reed scored the first goal at the 33:14 mark on a perfect cross by Martin to put Karns City, the defending D9 Class 2A champions, up 1-0 in its first Class A playoff game since 2015.
Then, after a frustrating stretch of near misses, Addie Christie launched a high, arcing shot just over the outstretched glove of Zameroski and into the net for a 2-0 lead with 8:17 remaining in the first half.
The flood gates opened.
Martin scored her first two minutes later, then scored again two minutes after that. Just 31 seconds after the Martin goal, Emma Dailey punched in a shot past Zameroski for a 5-0 lead.
Martin completed her hat trick with the final goal of the half at 2:39.
Emma Dailey and Cece Morrow scored second-half goals.
“We just had to keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting. Keep knocking on the door,” Tracy Dailey said. “Once we did end up scoring, we just kinda kept scoring. We didn’t really take away momentum from them until well into the first half. But we kept working and didn’t panic. That was huge for our team.
“It was a good team effort all the way around the field tonight, from out defense, from our keeper, through our midfield and to our forwards.”
It was also a good effort by Zameroski, who had 21 saves. She had stopped 14 of the first 15 shots she saw before Karns City was able to string goals together.
“She had an exceptional game tonight,” said Ridgway coach Rachel Smith. “We’ve played some very good, competitive teams this season and it’s really helped her. She’s never been a goalie until this year and she’s made tremendous improvement.”
Zameroski is tall and lanky and used her long arms to swallow up shots. She also displayed the uncanny ability to know when to attack and when to wait back to stop a shot.
That, Smith said, came from playing the likes of Karns City this season.
“It’s taught her more skills on how to read those types of plays,” Smith said. “Karns City, they just have more skill than we do. We’re a young team and we’re growing and we’re trying to improve. This is a good learning experience for the whole team.”
No. 2 seed Karns City (15-4) will move on to the Class A semifinal against Forest on Wednesday. That match will also be played on the Gremlins’ home field.
Karns City beat the Fires, 4-1, earlier in the season.
No. 1 seed Elk County Catholic received a bye into the semifinals and will play No. 4 Brockway, a 2-1 winner over Brookville in the other quarterfinal game.
“We definitely have to get back to work,” Tracy Dailey said. “The girls have an assignment for tonight: watch film on (Forest). So, they’re back to doing homework just to see where we need to better our play come Wednesday.”