WILLIAMSPORT - Trinity's David Bricker advanced in to East Juniata's backfield, juked the ball around defender Bailey Coder and sent one past the hands of Adam Strawser.
With just 1:45 left on the game clock when that happened, it was unlikely that it would be erased as the game winner. Indeed, it stood in that capacity, as Trinity eliminated East Juniata, 2-1, in the first round of the PIAA Class A boys soccer championship Tuesday at Balls Mills soccer complex.
"They were dangerous up top. That kid up top was quick for them. I thought we contained him pretty well," East Juniata coach Don Troutman said. "That doesn't happen if we finish our chances."
Sentinel photo by TIM?SHUMAKER
Trinity’s Jack McLaughlin, left, fights to defend East Juniata’s Spencer Reinford Tuesday in the first round of the District 4 Class A boys soccer tournament at Balls Mills. East Juniata fell to Trinity 1-0, thanks to a late goal in the second half. See more photos online at cu.lewistownsentinel.com.
He was upset - and with good reason - about all the chances his team had to score in the game, which was rather lopsided when it came to overall play.
Despite the fact that it was, for all intents and purposes, the first true offensive goal of the game, the Bricker tally isn't the one that upset East Juniata coach Don Troutman - he was still frustrated about the equalizer, a tally that came on a free kick in the 68th minute of play.
Chance after chance came up dry for the Tigers, who had the ball in front of Shamrock keeper Chase Katherman all night. The problem was they weren't getting it past him without getting it past the goal, too.
The tie was finally broken 12 minutes into the second half, when Spencer Reinford was tripped inside the box, and a penalty kick was awarded. Reinford took it, went low left and tore one past Katherman to make it 1-0 Tigers.
As the middle of the half went by, Reinford, who played forward from the start, shifted to the back and the Tigers were keeping more players on defense - but, Troutman said, he was not counting on the one-goal lead to hold to the end.
"We weren't playing for that goal to hold up. We were playing to score more goals," Troutman said. "We have never packed it in."
And then came the call that changed the game, the foul that set up the Shamrocks' tying goal. Nate Gracey took the kick, sent it across to Brett Becker, who turned it back into the net.
"The way I saw it, it wasn't a foul. It was real clean defense. I thought he did a good job on the ball," Troutman said. "Sometimes those calls go against you."
But it seemed to do more than that - after the score was tied, the Shamrocks played with more passion and intensity, while East Juniata seemed to be thrown by the goal, and unsure how to react. It was a time in the game when soccer could use a time out, a chance for a coach to settle his players and refocus them.
"I don't know if we lost our head," Troutman said. "It maybe set us back a little bit."
The story of the first half was a pretty simple one - the Tigers got all the setups they wanted, but couldn't take anything away.
Nick Lorenz, Reinford and Hunter Gingrich hounded the Trinity defense, which managed a superb half against the Tiger offense. Not helping the District 4 champs, though, was the fact that so many of their shots were off target - mostly wide, just outside the post.
Only once did Shamrock keeper Katherman react with fear; that was the same number of times Strawser was seriously threatened at the other end. The difference is, Katherman was being pelted all night, while Strawser faced half as many attempts.
East Juniata made a harsh push at the start of the second, but the best opportunity was a ball rolling off Devin Goodling's back that Katherman was able to handle. Lorenz had a couple free shots in front but misdirected the ball.
It was the story of the game, Troutman said.
"If you don't finish your chances, that's what happens. We dominated the whole game," he said. "We didn't get many even on frame in the first half. We totally dominated the game and lost."
Just minutes before the PK that started the scoring, Trinity made a strong push and caught Strawser out of position, but Zane Lauver came through to keep his team in it.
East Juniata ends the season - its fourth in a row as Tri-Valley League and District 4 Class A champion - at 16-5-1.