HAMBURG — Sure, tears were shed and cheeks were flushed, but the Lake-Lehman girls soccer team broke away from their post-game huddle in a common refrain.
Without any seniors in the starting lineup, Lake-Lehman succumbed to two-time defending champion Trinity (Camp Hill) in a hard-fought 4-3 loss in the PIAA Class 2A girls soccer semifinals.
“Every game from the division title to the district title every step we took we got better and better and better, and improved every game,” Lake-Lehman coach Kelly Adamshick said. “Trinity are the state champions, back to back. Here, we gave them a workout.”
The Shamrocks will face the Mercyhurst Prep Saturday in their quest for their third straight state crown.
Mackenzie Love scored two goals for the Black Knights to finish the season with 48 goals and 110 points.
“Well (Love) was very fast,” Trinity coach Theresa Mull said. “And they played well together and they had nice combinations. That was giving us fits, as far as our defense.”
Three goals within a 59-second span ultimately decided the game to break open a 2-2 impasse. Trinity’s Mayleigh Perkins found the inside portion of the left post on a go-ahead shot in the 73rd minute. A mere 20 seconds later, Theresa Durle caught the Black Knights napping and took it on her own to double the Shamrock lead.
As the case all season for the 100-plus goal differential Black Knights, Lake-Lehman did not waste time finding the back of the net. Thirty-eight seconds later, Kyra Apaliski launched a 35-yard goal to cut the deficit in half. Unfortunately, the Shamrocks’ defense held the Black Knights to without a shot for the final six minutes.
“The second half goals back-to-back hurt us,” Adamshick said. “I think they didn’t expect it. It was just too fast. It just happened too fast.”
For the fifth time this postseason, Lake-Lehman (21-2) had to play from behind after letting up the first goal. The Shamrocks took advantage of the Black Knights’ rust in the 19th minute when Durle dished a pass backwards on a breakaway chance to allow Kathleen Dominguez to put one pass the goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.
“First half we were nervous,” Adamshick said. “This is the first time they’ve been here in 20 years. It’s experience for all of them. We didn’t have one senior starting. A lot of nerves. We calmed down, changed our formation up, and got out offense going.
Love greased Lake-Lehman’s wheels in the 24th minute. She corralled a loose ball from Abby Paczewski in the box to even the score at one apiece.
The ‘Rocks reclaimed the lead in the 28th minute. Sydney Demyan struck the perfect chord on a set piece and hooked a pass to an open Perkins for a one-timed goal.
Once again, Love battled back with her second goal of the game to tie it at 2-2 in the 49th minute. Amanda Ayers sent a ball across the middle on a 3-on-3 chance to Love. Love lofted a shot from 23 yards out that gave the Trinity keeper no chance to stop it.
Lake-Lehman goalkeeper Stephanie Ayers made seven saves.
PIAA CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS
Trinity (Camp Hill) 4, Lake-Lehman 3
First half — 1. TRI Kathleen Dominguez (Theresa Durle), 19th minute; 2. LL Mackenzie Love (Abby Paczewski), 24th; 3. TRI Mayleigh Perkins (Sydney Demyan), 28th. Second half — 4. LL Love (Amanda Ayers), 49th; 5. TRI Perkins (Noelle Dominguez), 73rd; 6. TRI Durle, 73rd; 7. LL Kyra Apaliski, 74th.
Shots — TRI 17; LL 6. Saves — TRI 4 (Jennifer Wilson); LL 7 (Stephanie Ayers). Corner kicks — TRI 2, LL 1.