GREENCASTLE — Underdog Manheim Central had just scored a goal with 5:46 left before halftime to tie Greencastle-Antrim.
It appeared the Barons had turned the momentum around in the District 3 Class 3A first-round girls soccer playoff game.
Not so fast.
Blue Devils coach Chris Noblit decided right then to move the dynamic Mia Libby from midfield to forward to pair her with G-A’s other buzzsaw, Haley Noblit. And the move paid off immediately with a Libby goal before halftime that jump-started Greencastle to a 6-1 victory at Kaley Field.
Greencastle (17-1-1) will host No. 12 seed Hershey (9-10) on Thursday at 7 p.m. in a quarterfinal game. Manheim Central finished with a 7-10 mark.
“They were swarming Haley up there, but with those two up top you have to pick your poison,” coach Noblit said. “Putting Mia up top put the pressure on them and they couldn’t attack us with as many players as they were.”
With 1:41 left in the half, Libby and Brooke Guthrie did a nice give-and-go and Libby snuck a shot under Baron goalkeeper Alexis Wettig to make it 2-1.
Libby said, “Coach asked me to move, and I just tried my hardest to show some senior leadership. That goal was a great momentum booster and helped us get it going in the second half.”
Haley Noblit, who had scored the game’s first goal after a pass from Maddie Koons, did a 1-2 with Libby 3 1/2 minutes into the second half and Libby finished with a shot inside the right post to take the lead to 3-1.
“Haley and I have played together for a while, and we feed off each other’s energy,” Libby said. “But the whole team connected well and I’m proud of the team.”
Within a few minutes, it could have been 5-1, but Libby had two goals called back. On the first, a vicious shot by Noblit banged off the far post right to Libby in front, but it hit off her arm before entering the net. Seconds later, Noblit’s cross to Libby was headed in, but she was offside.
Then came the Barons’ last surge.
Twice in a span of about two minutes, Manheim Central’s Abbie Reed was sent in on a 1-on-1 breakaway. On the first, G-A keeper Lexi Nelson came out and snuffed the ball before she could shoot. On the second, Reed flicked ball away from Nelson, but her shot clanged off the post and was kicked out of danger.
After that, it seemed the Barons were deflated — over the course of four minutes, the Blue Devils tacked on three more goals.
Noblit laid off a corner kick to Henson, who ripped a laser into the back of the net. After another corner, Libby headed the ball toward the goal and it fell at the feet of Koons, who stuffed it in. Finally, Natalie Hanks hit a fine cross to the far post and Mary Murray was there to nod it home.
Chris Noblit said, “When we get the defense pushing up and shrinking the field, it’s so hard for them to do much. I thought Lexi played a great game tonight in goal, too.”
NOTES: Despite scoring 6 goals, Greencastle could have made it much worse — the Blue Devils hit the crossbar with an incredible five shots and the post with one (all but one by Noblit) … Noblit, a junior, now has 69 goals and 38 assists in her career, while Libby has 43 goals and 24 assists … Hershey knocked off No. 5 seed Red Land, 1-0, in overtime … “I heard Hershey is a phenomenal defensive team,” coach Noblit said.
Greencastle-Antrim 6, Manheim Central 1
Manheim Central 1 0 — 1
Greencastle 2 4 — 6
GA — Haley Noblit, asst. Maddie Koons, 9th minute
MC — Kaylee Neff, asst. Makayla Beck, 34th minute
GA — Mia Libby, asst. Brooke Guthrie, 38th minute
GA — Libby, asst. Noblit, 43rd minute
GA — Rylee Henson, asst. Noblit, 64th minute
GA — Koons, asst. Libby, 67th minute
GA — Mary Murray, asst. Natalie Hanks, 68th minute
Shots — MC 13; GA 25. Shots on goal — MC 7; GA 15. Corner kicks — MC 0; GA 6. Saves — MC 9 (Alexis Wettig 7, Alexa Sick 2); GA 6 (Lexi Nelson). Fouls — MC 6; GA 10. Offsides — MC 0; GA 2.