HIGH SCHOOL

Down to the Final Four: Greencastle battles through adversity to advance to PIAA semis

Dylan Jacobs
Chambersburg Public Opinion
Greencastle-Antrim celebrates after it defeated Archbishop Wood 1-0 in the PIAA Quarterfinals on Saturday, November 12, 2022

Head coach Chris Noblit explained this one pretty appropriately after the game.

"How we ended up winning that game is just amazing," Noblit said.

Even with a bug running through the team and some players not being 100 percent, thanks to a first-half goal from Haley Noblit, the Blue Devils were able to push through and hold off Archbishop Wood en route to a 1-0 victory in the quarterfinals of the PIAA girls' soccer tournament on Saturday.

Here's how this one unfolded:

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What it means

This game showed that Greencastle-Antrim is tough and resilient.

A few players couldn't go, and Rylee Henson, the team's senior leader on the back end, was clearly not feeling like herself.

That didn't stop her from standing in and making sure that the Vikings wouldn't get quality chances.

"My team pushed me through it and made me play to the best of my abilities," Henson said.

Rylee Henson and Mia Libby embrace following Greencastle-Antrim's win over Archbishop Wood 1-0 in the PIAA Quarterfinals on Saturday, November 12, 2022

Noblit said postgame that Henson was really not feeling well at halftime and didn't know if she would be able to go back in.

She did, and she thrived.

"The game ball goes to Rylee," Noblit said. "She was doubled over. She couldn't move out there but she battled through it."

Key plays

The goal by Haley Noblit with 11 minutes to go in the first half was huge to give the Blue Devils some confidence, but the Vikings came out swinging in the second half, looking to keep their season alive.

But every time they had a run at the ball, there was Henson, or there was Mia Libby, to clear things away. And goalkeeper Alexis Nelson made the plays she needed to make.

Haley Noblit (1) attempts to dribble the ball away from a defender as Greencastle-Antrim defeated Archbishop Wood 1-0 in the PIAA Quarterfinals on Saturday, November 12, 2022

Archbishop Wood applied the pressure, but Greencastle didn't fold.

"I wished this was basketball so I could call timeout," Noblit said. "I wanted us to possess it more. We didn't have anything left but we needed to posses it more."

And Noblit knew that this game couldn't go longer than 80 minutes.

"We couldn't win this in overtime," Noblit said. "The girls had nothing left."

Unsung heroes

With a shorthanded team, and having to move Libby back, that left an experienced group up front and in the midfield.

But Greencastle got players to step up, with the likes of Caterina Marchiano, Callie Izer, Hailey Baker and Brooke Guthrie, all underclassmen, making some big plays, getting on the counter attack and keeping the ball in the offensive zone.

Greencastle-Antrim celebrates after it defeated Archbishop Wood 1-0 in the PIAA Quarterfinals on Saturday, November 12, 2022

Marchiano knew she had to step up in this moment.

"It makes me nervous but once I get in the game I just go with it," Marchiano said.

Going forward, getting those players experience could really help in moments like this.

"I just know I need to make the right pass get it to the open people," Marchiano said.

What's next

Greencastle moves on to the PIAA semifinals, which takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 15. The Blue Devils will face off against District 1 champion and unbeaten Upper Perkiomen. Time and location is to be determined.

But the seniors of this team know that making it to the final four in the state is very special.

"It feels amazing. To be in the final four is a major accomplishment," Henson said. "Not a lot of people can say that. With the past years and where we were, to finish my senior year, me and Mia, like this is just amazing."