Mars wins third straight WPIAL girls soccer title
Mars practiced for shootout situations since the beginning of the season.
Until Saturday night, the Planets didn't need those skills, but the work eventually paid off in gold.
All six Mars shooters tallied goals, with junior Karli Paracca burying the game-winner, as the Planets (19-1-1) won their third straight Class AA championship with a 2-1 shootout victory over Moon.
“Six people stepped up for us today,” Mars coach Blair Gerlach said. “My theory on penalty kicks is if someone feels confident they can make it, let them step up and make it.”
WPIAL rules call for five shooters in shootout situations, but all five players for both sides scored. Mars goalkeeper Sarah Dailey dived to stop Moon's sixth shooter, Taylor Dornin, and Paracca made sure the opportunity didn't go to waste.
Mars extended its perfect record against WPIAL Class AA teams since joining the classification in 2010.
Of course, Moon is no ordinary Class AA team, as the Tigers moved down to the classification prior to the season and played evenly with the Planets.
“We had a couple of chances, (and) we didn't put a ball away,” Moon coach Bill Pfeifer said. “I'm proud of the way the kids played — they battled to the end.”
Moon (20-2) scored in the fifth minute when senior midfielder Christine Barthen booted a free kick from 30 yards into the top of the goal.
With just under 16 minutes remaining, Mars tied the game when Paracca slipped behind the Moon defense, took a crossing pass from Sabrina Edwards and slipped the ball past Moon goalie Nicole Falcione.
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review.