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Northeastern girls rally behind goalie's strong play

The Northeastern girls’ soccer team weathered the first-half storm, and the offense came to life in the second half to defeat Conrad Weiser, 3-1, and advance to the District 3 Class 3A quarterfinals on Monday night.

Amanda Bentz gave the host Bobcats their first lead of the evening just over five minutes into the second half, tying the score at 1. Brittany Arentz was brought down inside the box as she attacked the net, and Northeastern was awarded a penalty kick.

Bentz had to wait to take her shot while the officials explained the call to the opposing team. But after several minutes, Bentz stepped up to take the shot and buried the ball in the corner of the net to give her team the 2-1 lead. It was her second goal of the game.

“I was just standing there for a really long time,” Bentz said. “So, you know, you start to doubt yourself. So I just knew I already scored on the goalie, (and) I can do it again. I just put it away eventually.”

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Roughly five minutes later, Arentz found the back of the net, stealing the ball in the attacking zone and then sneaking a shot through the legs of Conrad Weiser keeper Vanessa Baker. The goal sealed the victory as the Bobcats controlled much of the play through the rest of the game.

It was a stark contrast to the opening 40 minutes, which saw Conrad Wieser pressure the Bobcats defense, forcing Northeastern keeper Rachel Reeser to make some tough saves.

Conrad Weiser’s TaCari Talford scored the opening goal of the game off a tough angle shot from the side of the net. But after that, Reeser was a rock for Northeastern.

Bentz netted the tying goal with 29:10 to play in the first half, but Conrad Weiser continued to apply pressure. Carissa Hagerty pushed a point blank shot just wide of the net at 22:11, and she had another scoring chance moments later. Talford had another great scoring opportunity, but Reeser made the diving stop on the shot.

“It’s mostly just instincts in the heat of the game,” Reeser said. “I don’t really think when I’m doing it. You do drills so that it’s just instinct to you. So that you just do it without thinking.”

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Reeser's performance helped spur the rest of the team coming out of halftime.

“She had a fantastic game and I think that kind of pumped everybody else up,” Bentz said. “If she was going to make these huge saves, then we needed to do something as the offense to get us in this game too. Because she’s keeping us in it.”

The Bobcats turn their attention to Thursday's quarterfinal against Northern York. Going forward, Northeastern coach Diana Collier said she hopes her team will play a full 80 minutes in each match.

“We’re only performing in one half, and it’s trying to get them to realize it's 80 minutes or go home,” Collier said. “So we have to execute the full game, so that’s kind of the situation go forward and the expectation.”