After falling to Conwell-Egan in last year's PIAA Class A playoffs, Christopher Dock had revenge on its mind heading into its opening round clash with the Eagles on Tuesday night. The Pioneers almost coughed up a three-goal lead, but in the end earned a trip to the second round.
District One champion Christopher Dock used a second-half goal-scoring spree to eventually edge Conwell Egan 3-2. Led by a pair of Bailey Kratz goals, the Pioneers fended off a furious Eagles comeback attempt for a character-building victory.
"With this group, I never feel comfortable,' Dock coach Ray Hess said with a laugh. "This has been our M.O.: we score goals and then we give them up. Our first half was horrible, we played defensive soccer and didn't really attack. But once we got that first goal, then we started to come alive. You can see a total difference after Bailey scored.'
The first half was a hard-fought back-and-forth affair. Both teams had their fair share of scoring opportunities, while the defenses did all they could to keep the other team off the scoreboard. The Pioneers had the team speed and Conwell-Egan had great build up through the midfield.
Conwell-Egan arguably had the best scoring chance of the half. A shot got through the defense and beat the keeper, only for Eden Nafziger to clear the ball off the line to keep the score level. In the 25th minute, Kratz dribbled the ball through the midfield and around a charging keeper, but the shot went begging just past the far post. Both teams won their share of corners and free kicks, but in the end it was scoreless heading into halftime.
It was evident early on in the second half that a goal would be scored, it was just a matter of who broke through first. Both teams put pressure on the opposition's keeper, winning free kicks in dangerous areas and getting into the final third with relative ease. Just when Conwell-Egan looked like it would be the one to draw first blood, Dock used its patented speed to beat Eagles to it.
"I missed my first breakaway, so I had to make up for it,' Kratz said. "I think that after I scored that goal, we realized that we really did have this and it brought some intensity to the team. I think we were a little nervous, but once we realized we could play with them, we started playing better.'
Kratz opened the scoring when she used her quickness to run by a host of Eagles defenders and onto a headed pass that she hit past the keeper. A few minutes later, Niki Clements exploited a defensive breakdown in the final third and converted it into a goal. The offensive onslaught was rounded out when Bailey hit a wonder strike of a corner that curled and dipped to hit the top of the crossbar and into the net making 3-0 with 18 minutes remaining seemed like an insurmountable lead.
"It feels awesome to beat [Conwell-Egan] after they beat us last year,' Kratz said. "It makes us even more confident for the next game. It makes us stronger and hopefully we can play just as well in the next game.'
However, Conwell-Egan was there for a reason. Dynamic Eagles' midfielder Megan Latronica scored twice in a three-minute period to put her team right back into the match. But that sparked some aggression in Dock, which led to both teams bombing down field trying to score on each other. When the dust settled, Conwell-Egan simply ran out of time and the Pioneers escaped to keep their season alive.
"When they got the goals, I was nervous again,' Hess said. "I think you learn from this. We have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to practice for Saturday. We got the jitters out. We just seem so scared at times and they have to build the confidence that we can do some things.'