Christopher Dock edged by Trinity in PIAA Class A quarters

EXETER >> It would have been hard for Megan Swintosky to imagine at the beginning of the season that Christopher Dock girls soccer team would be among the final eight sides playing for the PIAA Class A title.

“If you told me at the beginning of the season we were going to get to the quarterfinals, I would have been shocked,” the Dock junior said. “Because we had almost none of our starters and we didn’t know how to play together.”

But no matter the expectations, the end of a postseason run is never easy to accept. And on a cold Saturday afternoon, the District 1 champ Pioneers had to face it after a tough battle with Trinity.

With 5:56 remaining in the second half, a shot by the Shamrocks’ Noelle Dominguez deflected off a Dock player’s head and into the back of the net and the District 3 champ held on to earned a 2-1 victory at Exeter Township’s Don Thomas Stadium.

“I think that we finished as a team, we played as a team and I think that’s how we got this far the whole season, but it was definitely tough losing to them,” Swintosky said. “I feel like we dominated the first half, but they came out really hard the second half. And I think we tried to match it, they just brought it the second half.”

The loss for Dock (17-4) was the second straight to Trinity in the Class A quarters, having fallen to the Shamrocks 3-2 in overtime last year. Saturday, the Pioneers had the handful of quality chances in the first half, but after intermission Trinity clamped down and put consistent pressure on the Dock goal.

“I think (Trinity) finally realized they had to play a little bit,” Christopher Dock coach Ray Hess said. “I think that first of all they haven’t been marked like that in any of their games – at least the two I saw – and they finally realized that ball speed and handling speed had to be faster. So better pace on the ball and better handling faster that way, too.”

Trinity advances to the Tuesday’s semifinals to face District 4 champ Warrior Run, which defeated District 3 runner-up York Catholic 3-0.

Christopher Dock, which was in the quarters for the fifth straight year, was looking to reach the state semis for the first time since 2012.

“If you asked me at the beginning of the season – especially when we lost the first two games – that we’d be here, I’d say you’re crazy,” Hess said.

Trinity’s Theresa Durle finally broke the scoreless tie at 29:56 in the second half, but just 49 seconds later, Swintosky had the Pioneers level, lofting a cross from Marissa Campo into the left corner.

“She crossed it over and I wanted to a get a goal, I wanted to get us back in,” Swintosky said. “And I just went for it and thankfully it went it. And I think that gave us a new fire but then I don’t know, we just couldn’t really complete it.”

Swintosky’s strike, however, did not flip the momentum, as Dock struggle to maintain possession while the Shamrocks continued to push forward, finding success down the right side.

Trinity finally claimed the go-ahead goal with less than six minutes left. Dock cleared a corner kick from the front of goal, but the ball found its way to Dominguez in the middle of the field. Dominguez let go of a shot that took a deflection off a Pioneer head and that was enough for it to get past keeper Audrey Schweizerhof.

“You got to get there and when you get there, you make your own luck,” Hess said. “Lots of times, the teams that are winning are the ones that make their own luck and get there. And they were pressuring enough that they made their own luck.

“We didn’t make our own luck in the first half, we had better opportunities than what they did in the first half and that’s when we should have capitalized and didn’t.”

Niki Clements – Dock’s top goalscorer – injured her ankle at 34:20 into the contest, but returned a few minutes later. The senior still generated quality chances as Dock had the better of play in the opening half.

“That hurt a lot because there are times were she could probably outrun those kids normally and just didn’t,” Hess said. “Her ankle was bothering her. She was hurting the whole game, got to give her credit for just getting out there.”

Clements sped past a Shamrock defender to get open space for a shot, but Trinity goalie Amanda Knaub made a strong diving grab. Knaub again denied Clements after Maddie Swartley lofted a ball in the box – Knaub getting a piece of the ball before Clements could shot, with the rebound cleared by a defender.

Trinity’s best chance in the first half came just before Clements came back from her injury, as Ashley Rogliano sent a shot off a free kick just wide of the left post.

Dominguez almost collected the opening tally early in second half, but Schweizerhof got to the right side of the net just in time for the save.

Durle would make it 1-0 Shamrocks at 29:56 as she held her position in the box, turned and placed a low shot into the left corner.

“They team that I saw the first half and the team I saw the second half, we were just completely different,” Swintosky said. “I don’t know if our mentality changed and we got too confident or we were just too tired, but it was definitely hard to see us almost falling apart in the second half.”

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