On paper, all signs pointed to a blowout for Thursday afternoon's District 3-A girls' soccer quarterfinal match between No. 3 seed York Catholic and No. 11 Kutztown.
The Irish, this year's York-Adams League Division III champions, entered with a 12-4 overall record, while Kutztown was five games below .500. Surely York Catholic already had its ticket punched to the district semifinals for the second-straight year, right?
However, the Irish appeared rusty from the start, a sign of not having played a game in 12 days. They scored the game's first goal 11 minutes, 39 seconds in, but Kutztown quickly answered less than a minute later by tying it up on a corner kick that bent toward the goal, deflected off the hands of goalie Hannah Laslo, and dropped into the back right corner of the net.
"It deflected off (my hand). It could've been the wind or my hand, but it kind of just curved in," Laslo said.
Kutztown kept Catholic on its heels the remainder of the half and went into intermission tied, with Kutztown holding the advantage in shots on goal (5-2) and corners (5-1).
Finally, the Irish came alive after halftime, scoring four goals in the second half en route to a 5-1 victory.
"I think two weeks off is a lot of time to not be playing games," Irish forward Elizabeth Johnson said. "Just kind of coming out slow and that's what can happen."
Plus, Kutztown slowed Catholic by using a man-to-man defense.
"We've never been man-marked before," Johnson said. "It's hard to turn. When you do try to turn they're right on your back and it's very frustrating when you're trying to score."
Johnson had no trouble scoring Thursday, notching two of Catholic's four second-half goals, her last coming when she dribbled down the left sideline, split two defenders and sent a rocket toward the opposite corner of the net with 9:13 to play.
Natasha Vadas notched the first two goals for the Irish. Julia Piff capped off the scoring with 4:45 remaining. Catholic outshot Kutztown in the second half, 9-1. Laslo finished with five saves.
Rematch: Irish coach Ryan Luckman wasn't available for post-game comments because he immediately left to travel to watch No. 2 Tulpehocken (17-2) host No. 7 Camp Hill (9-10) on Thursday night.
Catholic will face the winner of that game, which ended up being Tulpehocken, 3-0, at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Hershey High School.
Tulpehocken, defeated the Irish a year ago in the district semis, 3-0, before moving on to win the district title. Tulpehocken (18-2-0 overall) was 9-1 in the Berks League this season, capturing its second-straight division title.
"It's gonna be a tough game," Laslo said. "If we come out there and play as hard as we can, we can hang with them."
-- Reach John Walk at email@example.com.