HERSHEY >> The road traveled by Governor Mifflin was its own reward.
The Mustangs fell one victory shy of corralling a second District 3 championship in five seasons Saturday night by a 3-2 count to Conestoga Valley in the District 3 4A title match, held at Hersheypark Stadium.
The second-seeded Buckskins needed a 77th minute goal by Emily Clapper to repel the Mustangs, who had potted two frenzied late second-half markers to reject a 2-0 deficit. Sophomore Kiery Spatz scored both Mifflin goals in an 11:11 span down the stretch.
Truth is, no one — except the Mustangs themselves — thought they would even be here. Mifflin had been playing with house money for a week following its stunning overtime win against top-seeded Cumberland Valley last Saturday night, down the road at Hershey High School.
Mustangs head coach Ed Deren was cognizant of all of it.
“It’s been a magical season, knowing that even when we were down, the girls weren’t out,” Deren said, “and that we were going to keep battling to the last minute. They proved that tonight. There’s a lot of tears out here because that means a lot to them. They cherished the opportunity of being out here. Sure, we’re walking away with a loss in the game, but it doesn’t take away from what we’ve done to get to this point.
“I think about it often. I think about the memories these girls have created for themselves and this team and that they’re going to be able to take with them for a lifetime.”
Mifflin’s season is not over, of course. By virtue of its semifinal triumph over Manheim Township last Tuesday, the Mustangs (18-6-1) punched their ticket to PIAA tournament. States begin on Tuesday.
“We just have to regroup and get ready for states,” Deren said.
It was an odd gold medal encounter with the Buckskins (21-2-1), Mifflin’s second of the campaign (CV, 1-0 in OT, on Sept. 30). Conestoga Valley carried play from roughly the midway point of the first half through a similar juncture in the second 40.
The Buckskins were unable to have a sustained high quality of play pay off before the break. Mifflin’s mids and back liners clogged the field down the middle.
CV countered that tactic by shifting wide and finally found the back of the net early in the second half. Alexis Spencer took control of a loose ball near the edge of the box, entered by Adalee Broadbent’s free kick, and fired a shot to the upper right hand corner past Mifflin keeper Katelyn Dreibelbis at 44:44.
Broadbent, possessor of a potent foot, doubled that advantage at 52:50 with an arcing 47-yard boot that just clipped the top of Dreibelbis’ hand on the save attempt. With a 2-0 edge in pocket, CV looked to be on its way.
But just 12 seconds after the restart, Spatz sent a shot from about 10 yards out, from the right side edge of the box, and beat CV goalie Lauren Yoder to shave the lead in half.
Then, with 15:47 to play, Spatz was in a fortuitous position while Yoder and one of her central defenders played “I got it, you take it” in their defensive box.
Yoder dove at the last instant to try to cover up but never fully possessed the ball. Spatz jumped at the loose ball and banged it home from point-blank range, high into the netting, to knot the contest at 2.
“I knew we needed to get another one,” Mifflin’s sophomore winger said. “As soon as they weren’t going for (the ball), I was. It went between (Yoder’s) legs.”
But Clapper ended it with a run that began near the 30-yard marker. She weaved from right to left, alone, and slotted the medal-winner — CV’s first in program history — past Dreibelbis into the lower left corner of the goal.
“Emily got loose and put the game in her hands,” CV head coach said. “It’s kind of funny — what i told them to not do, play the ball down, the middle, is how we got the winning goal.”
District 3 4A championship
at Hersheypark Stadium
Conestoga Valley 3, Governor Mifflin 2
CV – Alexis Spencer, 44:44
CV – Adalee Broadbent, 52:50
GM – Kiery Spatz, 53:02
GM – Spatz, 64:13
CV – Emily Clapper, 76:34
Shots on goal
GM 4, CV 9
GM 6, CV 1
GM (Katelyn Dreibelbis) 6, CV (Lauren Yoder) 2
Half: No score
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