LOWER PAXTON >> An unfortunate collision and a 50-yard direct kick that found its way in put Faith Christian in a 1-0 hole at the half on Tuesday night.
The Lions then put on as much pressure as they could muster to try and get the score even.
Said Millville’s Josh Spangenberg: “We couldn’t breathe going into the second half. It was hard to breathe. It was very nerve-racking.”
Spangenberg’s goal off a corner by Griffin Bower broke open a tense, tight game with about 13 minutes to play, and Millville went on to a 3-0 victory over the Lions in a PIAA-A Semifinal at Landis Field.
District Four Champion Millville advances to its first-ever state final against either Avonworth or Greensburg Central Catholic while District One Champion Faith saw a terrific postseason run — which included a quarterfinal win over two-time defending State Champ Camp Hill — come to a close.
“These guys played hard. You hate to see a season end like that — 3-0, the only time we were shut out all season,” Lions coach Ryan Clymer said. “I thought we definitely competed with that team. If we put one in first, I think it’s a whole different ball game.”
Faith had the majority of quality scoring chances in the first half but it was Millville that would score on a long-distance one.
With 4 minutes and 26 to go in the half, the Quakers’ Caleb Temple booted a direct kick from about 50 yards out. Faith keeper Chase Peev — solid throughout — collided with a teammate while the ball took a high hop into the net for a 1-0 Millville lead.
Korey Schuster and the Lion attack turned up the heat but couldn’t quite connect.
“I would say for most of the match and the first 20 minutes of the second half, it was us (controlling the ball). We just couldn’t put it in,” Clymer said. “(Millville keeper Landon Evans) made a great save in the first half and he made a good save in the second.
“Kudos to them. They got a set piece and they finished it for the second goal.”
Peev, a senior, made a diving save on a PK to keep it a 1-0 game at the break, but then Spangenberg’s finish made it 2-0 late. A goal by Bower completed the scoring with 10 minutes to play.
“It feels amazing — the first team in Millville history to make it this far. It just feels really good,” said Evans, a freshman keeper for the Quakers.
Faith generated chances but Millville made sure they didn’t come in bunches.
“They like to shoot from long range, the goalie will bobble, and they always have somebody there to hold the goalie accountable (and knock it in),” Millville coach Anthony Preston said. “We did a lot of work with that over the last couple of days and (Evans) definitely showed his maturity and he played well beyond himself and well beyond his years tonight.”