HERSHEY — A huge game against a tested, high-quality opponent worked against the York Catholic girls' soccer team in the opening half of Thursday night's District 3-A championship game.
Trinity, the defending district and state champion, dominated play in the first 40 minutes, scoring two goals while taking six shots on goals to zero for York Catholic, which was making its first appearance in a district final.
The Fighting Irish played much better in the second half, firing the same number of shots on goal (three) as Trinity, while earning four more corner kicks than the Shamrocks.
York Catholic, though, wasn't able to get the ball into the back of the net, and Trinity added a third goal for a 3-0 victory and another title. The top-seeded Shamrocks improved their record to 19-1-1, and second-seeded York Catholic slipped to 14-5-0.
"I think the moment got the best of the girls a little bit in the first half," Fighting Irish head coach Joe Nattans said. "We didn't play our style of soccer. We kicked the ball a lot instead of passing it. We did a lot better in the second half and we created some opportunities."
York Catholic senior star Liz Johnson said that while she and her teammates were excited to play for the title, their goal eluded them.
"Our ultimate goal was to win," Johnson said. "This is a new experience (playing for a district title) for us. Trinity's been here before."
Three different players scored for the Shamrocks. Sage Magruder and Ashley Rogliano connected for the first-half goals, and Ana Dominguez finished off the scoring in the second half. Dominguez put away the rebound after a shot by Rogliano caromed off the left post.
"They (the Shamrocks) pass very well," Nattans said. "And, they find an open spot to shoot the ball. Two of their three goals came when they found a hole in our defense. They're a very, very good team. Hats off to them."
York Catholic showed in the second half that it's a very good team, too.
"In the second half, we got back to what we know," Fighting Irish senior Lisa Casagrande said. "At halftime, we talked about settling down."
Nattans is confident there won't be any lingering effects from the loss when York Catholic begins a quest for a state championship on Tuesday. The Fighting Irish will take on District 2 champion Lakeland at a site and time to be determined. Lakeland downed Mountain View in the District 2-A title match, 3-2, in overtime.
"Not with these girls. When we get back to work tomorrow, I have full confidence, they'll be focused and ready to go," Nattans said. "This hurts a lot, but the best way to make it better is to get back to work and focus on next week."
— Reach Dick VanO'Linda at email@example.com.