It took nearly 58 minutes, but the Archbishop Hoban girls soccer team finally cut through a green-and-white picket fence staked by visiting Cloverleaf.
Senior captain Katie Easton’s goal sparked a game-ending flurry, and senior Mykaela Zingale and sophomore Sydney Huckabee each had a goal and an assist, as Hoban topped Cloverleaf 4-0 on Monday night in a Division II district semifinal at Dowed Field.
Hoban will host St. Vincent-St. Mary at 7 p.m. on Thursday for the district championship.
“I’m so happy we’re still going, especially for the seniors,” Huckabee said. “We’re trying to do everything for them because they deserve it so much. We’re trying to make sure their last season is their best one, and we go as far as we can.”
Ranked second in the state and 19th in the nation, the Knights (16-0-2) shook off a scoreless first half and pounded four second-half goals to remain undefeated.
“I told them [at halftime] it’s going to take a special effort from somebody at a special moment to find the net, and Katie Easton had a nice little one-touch shot,” Hoban coach Patrick Dobbins said. “Then things started to open up after that.”
Two quick passes, the first from junior Annie Tomei, and the second from Zingale, set up Easton’s goal from about 12 yards out and just inside the right post. Hoban led 1-0 with 22:36 left to play.
“Mykaela touched it across perfectly,” Easton said. “We have that connection on the field. I just poked it in, and it was crazy. Once we got the first goal that started the momentum for our team to keep scoring.”
Cloverleaf (7-12-0) often had 10 players defending inside the 18 and did not have more than two or three quality touches in its attacking third of the field during the first half.
“Our plan was to take them as deep as possible, and we did that for almost 60 minutes,” Cloverleaf coach Guillermo Porras said. “Our goal was to really frustrate them. Eventually when they did score that first goal, we had to come out of our shell. As soon as we did that, they put three goals on us.”
The Colts’ best opportunity to score came on a long free kick by junior Lauren Gokey with 16:30 to go and the score still 1-0.
Hoban’s seven seniors were definitely aware of the stakes.
“Before Katie scored, I was really sad, and I was thinking about how our season was on the line, and this could be our last game if we go to PKs [penalty kicks],” said Zingale. “Until we scored it definitely was on the line.”
Zingale converted a left-to-right cross from Huckabee to make it 2-0 with 15:11 remaining. Huckabee got on the board at 9:14 and sophomore Kara Marshall tacked on a late goal to round out the scoring.
Freshman Olivia Petit was credited with two assists.
Hoban seniors — defender Natalie Comeriato and goalkeeper Maddie Diestel — did not face a single shot on goal.
“They were looking for PKs, I think,” Dobbins said. “[Cloverleaf] did a nice job. It was tough for us to get through. We had to start working the ball wide and being patient, and hope the goal would come.”
Cloverleaf goalkeeper Katelyn Young made 13 saves. The Knights had 19 shots on goal, including two that rattled off the crossbar before Easton scored.
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