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Olivia Cruthers, Tara Harkin help Kellenberg get 6 second-half goals to beat SJB

Olivia Cruthers of Kellenberg Memorial High School is

Olivia Cruthers of Kellenberg Memorial High School is congratulated by her teammates after scoring the goal to put Kellenberg in the lead during a CHSAA girls soccer match against St. John the Baptist on Saturday. Credit: Dawn McCormick

The Kellenberg girls soccer team flipped a switch.

After allowing the first three goals of the game and entering halftime down by two goals, the Firebirds needed to light a fire. And that’s exactly what they did.

"We weren’t playing together," forward Olivia Cruthers said. "We were kind of slow on our feet, so we needed a pep and when we stepped out on the field in the second half, we brought it."

Brought it, they did. Kellenberg scored six goals in the second half en route to a 7-3 home victory over St. John the Baptist in CHSAA girls soccer action Saturday afternoon. Kellenberg (2-2-2) scored three goals over a span of three minutes to take a 4-3 advantage with 18:23 remaining in the second half.

Cruthers scored two of Kellenberg’s goals over that stretch, which shifted control of the game to the Firebirds.

"It just brought so much energy to the whole field," Cruthers said. "I think we were all alive after that."

Cruthers scored both of her goals off scrambles in front of the net following deep free kicks. Lindsay McShea scored the tying goal for Kellenberg with a run on the left side of the field, faking out defenders and the goalkeeper in the process.

"Energy was high," McShea said. "Your blood is definitely pumping. Everybody is so excited and then I think we finally started to get our confidence back and knew we could take this game."

Tara Harkin added the final three goals for Kellenberg. Cruthers finished with two goals and two assists and Jessica Lee scored the Firebirds’ first goal.

St. John the Baptist (0-5-1) scored three goals in the game’s first 21 minutes, with Meghan White striking twice and Amanda Watson with a goal and an assist.

"All season we’ve had trouble scoring goals," coach Suzanne Sluka said. "So I said this is it . . . see what you have, go out there and prove me wrong that we can go out there and score goals."

"It was insane," defender Sarah DeFreitas said. "We’ve had trouble scoring all season and to score seven goals today was just amazing."

With the victory, Kellenberg avoided the possibility of playing top-seeded and three-time defending league and state champion St. Anthony’s Saturday in the CHSAA semifinals. And with the offensive outburst and their rally, the Firebirds feel confident about their postseason possibilities.

"Just never give up," McShea said. "We were down 3-1 at half, that’s not a great score to go into halftime with. So just staying together as a team, not getting down on each other and bringing the energy really put the game away."

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