Paupack notched its third straight tourney title with three shutouts
The Wallenpaupack Area girls soccer team posted three straight wins last weekend at Marywood University to successfully defend its title at the 8th Annual Jamie Kotula Kickoff Classic.
The Labor Day weekend spectacle of soccer has become the preeminent preseason event pitting many powerhouses of the pitch against each other signaling the start of Lackawanna league play and raising funds for a fantastic foundation.
The local lasses got the ball rolling during the tourney’s third match when they faced Lakeland.
The Lady Bucks made several good pushes early in the first half and eventually cracked the ice with 17:54 to go when senior Mackenzie Turner took a pass off classmate Rachael Tirjan, shot and scored to go up 1-0.
Just three minutes later, Tirjan would make her own mark and shook the net to put Paupack up 2-0.
Lakeland challenged several times, but solid defense by sophomores Aliah Balch and Hanna Whaley kept the Lady Chiefs at bay.
It looked like it would go 2-0 into the break when Tirjan, on a breakaway, charged down the left-middle and made a low, inside shot with 22 seconds to go in the half, making it a 3-0 match.
Junior Sydney Colwell added even more insurance with 14:52 left in the game when her kick found the back of the net, putting Paupack up 4-0.
A drained Lakeland squad staved off further goals but the Purple & White still remained dominant through the match.
They closed the day with the shutout and would return the following morning for an 8 a.m. bout.
Valley View fought their way through a scoreless first half the previous day before finally posting a pair of goals in the second period to take a 2-0 win against North Pocono.
During the first match on Sunday’s round, the Buckhorns would turn the tables on the Cougars. Paupack went up 1-0 in the 20th minute the same way they started out against Lakeland: Tirjan to Turner to net.
However, it would remain 1-0 through the intermission.
Post-break, sophomore Katie Mancino passed off to Tirjan who struck solidly and boosted the Paupack tally to 2-0 at the 17-minute mark of the second half.
The Cougars held off further injury but, were unable to muster a successful counter offensive and finally succumbed.
The victory over Valley View put Paupack in contention for the title later that afternoon.
Western Wayne’s ladies fought a grueling duel with Holy Cross in their Saturday match.
Both squads went scoreless through regulation and one overtime before finally clinching the 1-0 sudden death win with just 35 seconds left in the second five-minute OT period.
Sunday’s first match for the Lady ‘Cats went much smoother against Holy Cross.
Senior Gracie Guarino’s quartet of saves and goals by senior Rachel Butlet and sophomores Cassidy Asinski and Alex Gravine lifted Western Wayne to a 3-0 victory.
With this win, the Lady 'Cats punched their card for the battle with Paupack in the championship match.
Unfortunately for the Varden lasses, it was Tirjan time.
The match looked to be heading to halftime, scoreless, but the Paupack ace pummeled one into the net with just 18 seconds to go, giving the Buckhorn ladies a 1-0 lead at the intermission.
Back on the pitch five minutes into the second period, Tirjan notched her second goal of the night and just four minutes later, took and made a penalty kick.
Tirjan’s hat trick lifted the Lady Bucks to their third straight Kotula trophy and their sixth overall.
Sophomore Mackenna Peet earned three shutouts for Paupack.
Senior Jamie Falgie, juniors Emily Peet and Lizzie Desmet, and sophomore Emily Langan all played key roles, as did frosh Devon Kiesendahl.
“The girls played well all weekend,” said Paupack Head Coach Alicia Sodano.
“Playing three games in less than 48 hours is exhausting, but the played hard and worked hard.”
Sodano, always gracious for a win, is never one to rest on the laurels. League play is just around the corner. The trio of wins gave Paupack a nice boost in the District 2-AAA power ratings, holding on to that top spot won’t be easy.
“We’ll celebrate the win for a night, but it’s right back to work tomorrow,” she said.
While Paupack may have won the championship, there are no losers at the Kickoff Classic. Jamie Kotula was a player for Holy Cross and perished untimely at just the age of 16 in a vehicle accident.
Tournament sponsorships and the prize raffles that accompany the weekend raise funds for the foundation carries on his legacy and serves to help others through scholarships and community grants, which currently exceed $300,000.