Hajnik’s second-half strike carries Great Valley past Southern Lehigh in state opener

WHITEHALL – Jack Hajnik snapped a second-half deadlock with a goal from in close following Nate Shackleton’s corner kick and Great Valley held on for a 2-1 triumph over (11-1) Southern Lehigh in the opening round of the PIAA Class AAA boys’ soccer tournament Tuesday night at Whitehall High School.

Coming off a 1-0 loss in the District 1 championship match Saturday to Central Bucks East, the victory sends the Patriots (17-5-2) to the state quarterfinals Saturday against District 3 champion Reading at an undetermined time and site. The Red Knights (23-2) advanced with a 1-0 triumph over Ches-Mont League entry Unionville in the opening round Tuesday.

Great Valley, which reached the state semifinals in 2013, drew first blood in the 12th minute when Nick Paynter headed in a free kick off the foot of Austin Wilk. Southern Lehigh got the equalizer 8 minutes later on Logan Koch’s penalty kick.

The 1-1 halftime standoff was broken when Hajnik came through with his decisive goal in the 51st minute off the well-executed corner play. From there, the Patriots kept Southern Lehigh (17-7-1) at arm’s length behind the solid defensive work of Kyle Hoops in front of keeper Aidan Claffey (5 saves).

Great Valley finished with a 10-6 shot advantage.

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