DALLAS — If there are three things that hold true in high school athletics, it’s this: depth is key, academics take precedence, and spring weather can be cruel in the Wyoming Valley.
Crestwood learned all of these the hard way in Tuesday’s District 2 semifinal round matchup with Dallas. A National Honor Society awards event depleted the Comets to two substitutes in an 18-4 loss to the Mountaineers at Dallas High School.
“Numbers hurt us today,” Crestwood coach Shaun Rohland said. “With the heat, it killed us on the field. As far as I’m concerned, today’s performance — the hustle we showed out there — is all that I could ask for.”
Second-seeded Dallas advances to the district championship game where it will face top-seeded Delaware Valley on Thursday at a site and time to be determined. The district champion advances to the first round of the PIAA Championships.
The No. 6 Comets contended with the Mountaineers for the first nine minutes before the humidity kicked in. After Crestwood’s Steve Roberts tied the game at 1 all with 3:58 remaining, Dallas responded with eight consecutive goals.
“We were able to move the ball and hit our shots,” Dallas coach Rich Cohen said. “For the first nine minutes, we were playing catch with the goalie. Defensively, we were tough. They had trouble clearing the ball out of our zone, and we got a lot of opportunities from turnovers in front of our goal.”
Dallas’ Omar Nijmeh led the attack with three goals and one assist. Nijmeh scored a dazzling behind-the-back goal at the start of the third quarter, putting the Mountaineers ahead 11-2.
Corey Metz was the game’s leading point scorer with seven off two goals and five assists. Jesse Goode and Matt Ross each tallied three scores and an assist. Brian Goyne contributed five ground balls.
George Pfieffer picked up the win with eight stops as the Mountaineers prepare for their third-straight trip to the district final.
“We have to do the things we work on in practice,” Cohen said. “We have to catch the ball. we have to come with confidence and go at the net. That’s what we started to do today.”
The Mountaineers fell to the Warriors in each of its past district final appearances. The deeper Delaware Valley squad defeated Dallas 13-5 in 2011 and 11-4 last season.
“Our clearing game has been problematic for us in the past (against Delaware Valley),” Cohen said. “Our offense hasn’t been able to get out of our defensive zone anyways. It’s something we’ve worked at a lot this season, and we’re getting better at it.”
The Comets conclude a tumultuous season that saw all but one of their six Wyoming Valley Conference wins overturned because of an ineligible player. Crestwood responded with a dramatic late quarterfinal victory over Tunkhannock for its first playoff victory in program history.
Crestwood received a hat trick from Steve Roberts, who charged the net off a faceoff win to start the fourth quarter. Brian Collins also scored for the Comets. Robert Coslett and Jay Popson added an assist.
Bailey Bauman made 12 saves for the Comets.
Dallas 18, Crestwood 4
Crestwood`1`1`0`2 — 4
Dallas`5`5`7`1 — 18
Scoring (G-A): CRE Steve Roberts (3-0), Brian Collins (1-0), Robert Coslett (0-1), Jay Popson (0-1); DAL Jesse Goode (3-1), Matt Ross (3-1), Omar Nijmeh (3-2), Aaron Kliamovich (3-0), Corey Metz (2-5), Joey Delamater (2-0), Brian Goyne (1-0), Connor Motley (1-0), Brendan Baloh (0-1), Keith Gillette (0-1).
Saves: CRE Bailey Bauman 12; DAL George Pfeiffer 8