Holy Ghost heading to Hershey

Holy Ghost Prep's Michael Kirby (2) begins the celebration after he beat Pequea Valley goalkeeper Jake Stoltzfus in the 58th minute of the semifinal.
Holy Ghost Prep's Michael Kirby (2) begins the celebration after he beat Pequea Valley goalkeeper Jake Stoltzfus in the 58th minute of the semifinal. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 14, 2013

At the beginning of the season, Holy Ghost Prep coach Ken Lawson didn't know if his team had the talent to reach the state boys' soccer tournament, let alone the PIAA Class AA final in Hershey.

But after defeating defending state champion Pequea Valley, 1-0, in Tuesday night's semifinal at West Chester East, the Firebirds are going to be smelling chocolate.

"The goal was to win the last game. That was their goal," Lawson said. "We questioned them. We had an inkling that they could, but we started off 0-3. We were struggling a little bit. To their credit, to turn it around the way we did was tremendous."

Saturday in the final, the Firebirds will face West Allegheny.

Holy Ghost (18-4) controlled possession early but nearly fell behind with less than four minutes to play in the first half. However, sophomore goalkeeper Matthew Lingerman made a fingertip save on a Braves shot from 30 yards.

Neither squad created another threatening opportunity for the remainder of the half. But in a game between teams that hadn't given up a goal in weeks, something had to give.

Midway through the second half, it did.

In the 58th minute, Firebirds forward Michael Kirby blazed past his defender down the right sideline, beat Braves goalkeeper Jake Stoltzfus, and scored into an empty net to send the Holy Ghost sideline into a frenzy.

Robbie Martin, coach of Pequea Valley (20-5-1), called it a lucky goal.

"I'm not trying to take anything away from the kid," Martin said. "I'm just saying that in a situation like that when the keeper comes out, sometimes you get the luck, and tonight, we didn't."

After the goal, Holy Ghost dropped nine players into its defensive zone, making it extremely difficult for the Braves to create a scoring opportunity.

Pequea Valley dominated possession in the waning moments, but the Firebirds backline led by seniors Luke Davis and Ryan Ockford preserved the victory.

Pequea Valley 0 0 – 0

Holy Ghost Prep 0 1 – 1

Goal: HGP-Michael Kirby.

Saves: PV-Jake Stoltzfus 3; HGP-Matthew Lingerman 3.


rallysports@phillynews.com

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