SOUTH LEBANON >> Dock Mennonite Academy has been waiting a decade to make a run in the PIAA boys soccer tournament. So being made to wait more than a half-hour Saturday evening for a goal thanks to the stellar play of East Juniata goalie Andrew Hunter was not as frustrating as it may have looked.
And when it came time for a breakthrough, who else would they look to but the player that got the goal that sent them to states?
Thomas Schreiber’s goal late in the first half finally dented the Tigers’ resolve, and Dock cashed in its dominance of play with two second-half goals in a 3-0 win over East Juniata in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class A tournament at Cedar Crest High School.
The win sends Dock (19-4) to Tuesday’s state semifinal against Moravian Academy, a 4-0 winner over York Catholic Saturday. Dock, a beneficiary of the added classification that removes larger perennial District 1 stumbling blocks like New Hope-Solebury (2A) and Holy Ghost Prep (3A), is in states for the first time since winning the Class A title in 2009.
Saturday, it played like a team that doesn’t want that run to end. The Pioneers controlled the game from start to finish, and only Hunter prevented the game from being a laugher. Hunter had made nine saves by the time Schreiber scored in the 35th minute on the way to 14 for the game. East Juniata (11-12) also got goal-line clearances from defenders Tyler Kerstetter and Brandon Marker.
By the late stages of the opening 40 minutes, it seemed a matter of when, not if, the East Juniata defense would bend, in part because of Dock staying positive about the attacking process.
“There was a lot of shots we had on target,” senior captain Ralph Saint-Fleur said. “A lot of games before this game, we would struggle to find shots. This game, we came from the jump and started shooting. We saw that he saved a lot of them, but we never stopped shooting, which was great.”
Schreiber, who scored the game-winner with 17 seconds left in the District 1 final against Delco Christian, added another big goal to his resume. He played a 1-2 with right winger Ben Lare, then made the run between the center backs. Hunter, who’d made all the right reads to that point, charged out to cut down Lare’s angle, and the sophomore squared it to Schreiber on the doorstep for an easy finish.
“I was able to come in the middle,” Schreiber said. “I held my pass a little bit so when he made his pass, I wouldn’t overrun it. And I was able to tap it into the goal.”
Hunter had made a couple of highlight-reel saves to that point, including a diving denial of Saint-Fleur. But the forward got his revenge off a corner in the 45th. Center back Jacob Shreiner headed the original delivery back across the box, and Saint-Fleur planted his header back against the grain. Hunter got a hand to it, but it wasn’t enough to keep it from nestling into the back corner of the goal.
Saint-Fleur set up the third tally with 19 minutes to play, his shot deflected on the way to goal. Nathan Smeland was in the right place, and he rifled the rebound into the back of the net, ensuring that the Dock run has a least one more game left.
“It feels great,” Saint-Fleur said. “We’ve never experienced this feeling before. It’s really memorable, and everyone’s enjoying it right now.”
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