Christopher Dock tops Conwell-Egan in PIAA Class A 1st round

PHILADELPHIA >> With a playmaker like senior Niki Clements, Christopher Dock girls soccer coach Ray Hess is fine giving her a little bit of leeway.

“You never know what’s she’s going to do,” he said. “And the thing about her is, she comes back, she comes forward, so it’s like do you mark her, it’s kind of hard because she’s all over the place. So, we allow her that freedom.”

On a misty Tuesday night at the South Philadelphia Super site, what Clements did was provide the go-ahead goal in the Pioneers’ fifth-straight victory in the PIAA Class A first round.

With District 1 champ Dock and Conwell-Egan knotted at 1-1 in the first half, Clements blew past an Eagle defender than unleashed a shot a few yards before the 18-yard box that skimmed past keeper Maddy Terry at 7:50.

“I just knew I had a defender to beat,” Clements said. “So I had to beat her and find a corner.”

Less than five minutes later, McKenzie Swartley added to the lead and Christopher Dock kept CEC from threatening in the second half to move on to the quarterfinals with a 3-1 victory over the District 12 champs.

“When we get the ball on the ground, we’re a better team and they were sticking it in the air – first 15 minutes was like air ball, air ball, air ball,” Hess said. “Once we started putting it on the ground more, then we started to play our style of game. And Nik had a great shot. Keeper probably should of had it, but so what. And then Mac’s play was unbelievable in there.”

Megan Swintosky tallied the opening goal off a Clements corner kick for Dock, which advances to play Trinity – a 5-0 winner over South Williamsport – in the quarters Saturday at site and time to be determined. The teams met in the same round last season, with Trinity scoring the a goal in the final minute to force overtime then striking again in extra time to win 3-2.

“It’s nerve-wracking, but I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said Clements of the rematch.

Dock and Conwell-Egan were playing each other in states for the fourth consecutive season. The Eagles topped the Pioneers in the 2012 semifinals, but Dock has won the last three, all the Class A first round.

“I’m super-excited because we’ve been so close every single year I’ve been year and we’ve wanted it so bad because no Dock girls team has ever won states,” Clements said. “So, coming so close all the years have given us a lot of heart. Even the incoming people that don’t know what it’s been like, they come in and play with heart.”

Swintosky, who had a strong night in the midfield, gave Dock a 1-0 lead less than 10 minutes into Tuesday’s contest. Clements forced a corner kick, and then sent a ball in the box that took bounced past Terry coming off her line right to an incoming Swintosky, who deflected it into the net at 31:38.

“Megan was all over the place. She was awesome today,” Hess said. “And because of her size, it’s nice to have a player in there that tall.”

Conwell-Egan regrouped and began pressing for an equalizer. The Eagles came up empty on three corners kick, but at 19:26 made it 1-1 when Bailey Brown high-arching shot from long distance knocked off the inside of the opposite post and in.

“I think we had some confidence with the first goal, but our level of play started to fall after that,” Clements said.” and then once they scored, we just got right back in it.”

Clements responded for Dock at 7:40, using a step over to get by a Conwell-Egan defender then in space put a shot behind Terry into the bottom opposite corner.

Swartley pushed the Pioneers’ advantage to 3-1 at 3:00, getting a great through ball in from Brooke Bozarth, holding off a defender and sending a shot just inside the left post.
“I was looking for like a redirect ball, because I was going to redirect it backwards,” Swartley said. “But then I just saw I was there, so I just took the shot.”

Conwell-Egan had a chance to pull back within one early in the second half, but Lindsay Straka pushed her chance wide. Dock, meanwhile, had two good opportunities to add to their lead after halftime. Swintosky sent a ball over the crossbar, while Maddie Swartley was just a step late getting to a corner kick at the back post.

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