EXETER >> When her team missed out on the Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs this fall, Methacton head coach Sarah Quintois had a simple message for her players.
“‘It’s a whole new season ahead,’” she rehashed Saturday evening, referring to the District 1 and PIAA postseasons. “We had a chance for a fresh start in front of us.”
That new season came to a finish on Saturday afternoon as the Warriors dropped a 3-0 matchup against District 3 champion Lower Dauphin in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals at Exeter High School.
Methacton’s run comes to a close at 16-9 overall, an impressive feat considering the Warriors were 11-7 prior to an unforeseen run through districts and into the state playoff brackets.
“We knew the regular season did not go as we had hoped,” said Quintois. “So they made a decision, as a team. They knew this was an opportunity for a do-over, a chance to make something special out of this season.
“It’s a shame to end on this note, but we’re here. That’s an accomplishment in itself.”
The majority of Saturday’s game was spent with Methacton on its heels in the defensive end while Lower Dauphin was setting up shop in front of the cage.
For the afternoon, the Falcons (16-1-1 overall), held an 11-0 advantage in penalty corners and outshot Methacton 13-0.
Perhaps the brightest spot for the Warriors, though, was senior goalkeeper Molly Frey in the cage. Frey made 10 saves on the afternoon — seven of which came during the second half — to give the Warriors a fighting chance throughout the game.
“She’s been awesome all year,” said Quintois of Frey. “She’s held us in all of our games, win or loss. She’s really been the backbone of our team. Our defense in general has really held us in games, but she’s been a huge part of it.”
Lower Dauphin, the champ out of District 3, came off the opening whistle red hot, with Caitlin Holland finishing the game’s first corner on a rebound less than two minutes in. Then just five minutes later, Emma O’Neill secured a pass from Audrey Domovich and finished it amid a scrum in front of the cage to give the Falcons an early 2-0 lead.
Lower Dauphin then extended it to a 3-0 advantage late in the first when Hollan scored her second — this time on a pass from Domovich — with eight minutes left in the half.
“We’re a very balanced team, that’s for sure,” said longtime Lower Dauphin head coach Linda Kreiser. “We say that we’re a team with no stars but everybody plays well together.”
Similar to Methacton’s situation, Kreiser credits a challenging regular season for the reason her team has been able to make such a strong run through the district and state playoffs so far.
“We have such a tough division,” she said. “Lower Dauphin, Palmyra and Hershey, we’re all in the same league and we’re all moving on. That kind of league prepares us for this competition.”
Lower Dauphin moves on to face Wilson (a 5-1 winner over Perkiomen Valley) in the state semifinals on Tuesday at a site and time still to be determined.
“We tried to tell our girls not to be intimidated by them,” said Quintois of Lower Dauphin. “But I mean, they’ve been a powerhouse forever. They know what it’s like to play in these games, they’re very composed. They definitely had us in experience.”
Quintois hopes that the experience gained this season, especially over the last month, will go a long way for a Methacton team that will be graduating six starting seniors.
“We have some good younger players coming up,” she said. “We’re going to have some big losses, some big holes to fill. That said, this season should go a long way for our younger players.”
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