Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it better for Antonia Grese.
In the final game, and most important one, of her high-school soccer career, the Moon Area forward watched teammate Amanda Kachaylo pass the ball to Kallie Conte, who in turn sent it Antonia’s way near the net of opponent Archbishop Wood.
“The goalie came out, and she didn't take a good angle on the ball,” Antonia said. “So I knew that if I put it on net on the other side, she wouldn’t be able to get it.”
The ball crossed the line to give Moon a 1-0 lead late in the first half of the PIAA Class AA championship game Saturday at Hersheypark Arena. That also turned out to be the final score, as the Lady Tigers brought home their first state title under longtime head coach Bill Pfeifer.
“It was nice to get up, but right after that, we almost scored another goal,” Antonia said after returning to school Monday. “At time, we thought going to win the game by several more goals.”
That would have been nothing new for a Moon team that routinely put up big offensive numbers while severely limiting opponents’ scoring during a 24-2 season. Antonia led the team with 19 goals, although she often found herself rested for the latter portions of games in which the Tigers had built comfortable leads.
“We had nine girls who had over 10 goals,” she said. “We’re a team. It’s not just one player; it’s everybody together.”
While Saturday’s game represented Antonia’s sole experience playing in a state title game, she had traveled to Hershey before: As a middle-school player, she watched the varsity team come up on the short end of the 2006 championship.
“We looked up to those seniors, so we wanted to go support them,” she explained.
But she discovered a big difference between spectating and participating.
“What made us nervous,” she admitted, “is that there were cameras everywhere, and people watching everything we’re doing.” As far as the resulting video footage, “It was fun to watch after. I don’t think it would have been fun if we would have lost.”
Moon Area won four PIAA playoff games to help take the sting out of a 2-1 shootout defeat at the hands of Mars Area in the WPIAL championship. Antonia registered a goal and assist to help beat Camp Hill’s Trinity High School 2-1 in the opening round of states.
A soccer player since age 3, Antonia is weighing several possibilities for continuing her career. But she does have a more important consideration after she graduates from high school:
“I really want to focus more on academics when I go to college.”
That might fit well into a Hollywood script, too.