HERSHEY — North Catholic's great run fell just short of having a great ending.
Paige Temple's successful penalty kick in the 61st minute was the difference as the Trojanettes fell to Bloomsburg, 1-0, in the PIAA Class 2A girls soccer championship game at Hersheypark Stadium Saturday afternoon.
North goalkeeper Andrea Bean played a superb game, stopping 12 shots.
“In my opinion, Andrea was the player of the game,” said North coach Emily Karr. “She's the storyline.”
The decisive goal was set up when Bloomsburg's Rylie Klinger rushed toward Bean, who came off her line to thwart the scoring chance.
Klinger was immediately able to regain possession, however, before getting tangled with two Trojanette defenders. All three players ended up on the turf 15 yards from the net.
A foul was called on North and Temple prepared to take the penalty kick.
She placed the ball to the left of Bean, who guessed correctly, but her dive was a split-second too late and the Panthers celebrated what turned out to be the game's lone score.
“I didn't have the best view,” Karr said regarding the foul. “But whether it was the right call or the wrong call, it's a tough way to have our season end.”
“Rylie did a great job of winning the ball in the air, taking on those defenders and earning the foul for us,” said Bloomsburg coach Aaron Flook, who coached the Panthers (23-1) to their first-ever state title in their first attempt. “Our girls weren't in shock by being here. I knew if we played the way we had for much of the season, we'd have a chance to win.”
Temple second-guessed herself just before putting her foot to the ball.
“I always go (to the goalie's left),” she said. “I lined up for the kick and I thought about switching it up. But I had to stick with my gut.”
North (15-3-1) managed several rushes after falling behind, resulting in three corner kicks in the final 19 minutes. Each was turned away by Bloomsburg.
The last Trojanette corner kick came in the 75th minute and soon after Grace Billmann booted the ball from the left of the Panther net, Jayden Sharpless headed the ball from within 10 yards, but Bloomsburg goalkeeper Abbey Gerasimoff dove and made the last of her five saves just in front of the left post.
Sharpless had one final chance to tie the game for North, but her shot from 30 yards sailed wide right of the net with 25 seconds remaining.
Despite its number of shots on goal, Bloomsburg's offense was not completely in sync.
“We didn't move the ball like we usually do,” Flook said. “North Catholic's defense had a lot to do with that.”
Said Karr: “It was a strong defensive game on both ends. We both were new to (playing for a state championship) and I think both teams played it safe for much of the game.”
The Trojanettes, who had their 10-game winning streak snapped, won a second straight WPIAL title this season.
“I took over as head coach in 2016 and that year, we struggled to make the WPIAL playoffs in Class A,” said Karr. “Each year has been better than the last.”