Villa Maria Academy soccer had their first round of state playoffs on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The Victors matched up against the Southmoreland Scotties to determine the team advancing into the final eight of the PIAA state playoffs.
The first goal came only 8 minutes into the first half when senior captain Ella Raimondi took the ball from the corner, drove inside, and slotted it to the bottom left corner of the goal.
“It started with my teammates helping me to recover the ball,” Ella said. This gave the Victors a 1-0 lead early in the game.
Only a few minutes later, Southmoreland found their way into Villa’s box and put their first into the back of the net. The game was tied 1-1 with plenty of time left in the game.
The first half was played out and remained scoreless until a ball came from Villa’s defense right to Raimondi. With two minutes left of play in the first half, she took the ball down and beat three defenders before finding the right side of the goal this time.
“I saw the ball coming over top to Ella and knew she could find another goal out of it,” said Alexa Tojaga, the Victor’s junior captain.
When the game picked up again, it remained 2-1 until there were eight minutes left in the game overall. The Scotties once again found themselves in the box while one of the forwards managed to strike one to the left side of the net. It was all tied up with only a few minutes to play, but it didn’t stay like this for long.
Only a minute later the Scotties retrieved the ball back and countered heading down the line. The ball bounced right on the edge of the box before Southmoreland found themselves up 3-2 with only a few minutes of play left.
“I was nervous, but we kept fighting as a team,” Alexa said. “The game wasn’t over to us quite yet.”
With three minutes remaining the Victors were given a free kick around 40 yards out. When the ball was sent in by senior Lauren Baloga, it landed again to Raimondi’s feet. She only needed two touches on the ball to beat the defender and find the back of the net for her third of the night in a now tied 3-3 game with only two minutes to go.
“I couldn’t see this as my last high school soccer game, neither could anyone else,” Ella said. “My team earned that goal after drawing a foul and putting the ball right in front of the goal. I was just there to tap it in.”
Lauren Baloga, the other captain who got the assist said, “I saw Ella. I knew I just had to put it towards her.”
All tied up with only fifteen seconds left, the unexpected and expected happened. The Victors got the ball again and found themselves nearly parallel to the goal, before slotting the ball right between Southmoreland’s goalie and the post. The expected part comes from who scored it, the star of the night, Ella Raimondi with her fourth goal to make the game 4-3.
“Again, it started from the rest of my team,” she said. “I was just lucky the ball came to me in another good position to put it away.”
That was the game. Thanks to Ella Raimondi’s stellar performance the Victors advanced to the final eight. Ella had one more thing to say afterwards.
“I’m just grateful for the team this year,” she said. “They‘ve helped me develop [into] the person and player I am today.”
On Nov. 13, the Victors’ soccer season came to an end with a quarterfinals loss 3-0 versus North Catholic.