Goalie shines for Dover girls' soccer team in York-Adams semifinal win vs. Central York
MANCHESTER — They're the last line of defense.
Playing in that kind of spotlight, goalies can often get more credit or blame than they deserve.
Such is life between the posts.
But make no mistake, Dover goalie Tori Wantz was worthy of every bit of praise she received on Tuesday night when she helped carry the Eagles to a 1-0 victory against Central York in a York-Adams League Girls' Soccer Tournament semifinal at Northeastern.
With the win, the Eagles (12-2-3) advance to Thursday's 7:30 p.m. final at Susquehannock to face Dallastown, a 3-2 overtime winner against Northeastern.
"Let's give Central York a lot of credit. They are a magnificent team," Dover coach Bret Altimore said. "It's obvious they finished at the top of Division I for a reason. Tori did a phenomenal job today, came up with some really big saves."
With 17:18 left to play in the second half, junior Mariah Eshleman was able to out race Central goalie Olivia Johnson to a ball in the box and was able to put it past the keeper for the game winner.
"That girl's all hustle and heart. Every bit of it, she's going to do what you ask her to do," Altimore said. "That was a hustle goal right there. We couldn't be any more proud of her effort."
Wantz was a key factor in helping to make Eshleman's goal hold up, making a number of key saves throughout a first half controlled mostly by Central. The opening 40 minutes saw the Panthers with more of the dramatic scoring chances, but Wantz was up to the task.
With just more than 14 minutes remaining in the half, Central's Bre Sgrignoli collected a ball near the 15-yard line and fired a shot that hammered off the crossbar. The ensuing rebound was fired on net, but Wantz made a quick diving save to keep the game scoreless. In all, Central would hit the top crossbar twice in the opening half.
"Our team's defensive effort, we all just stuck together very well, we kept our shape, we communicated, and we just came out with a lot of heart. And that's what helped us," said Wantz, who stopped all 12 shots she faced.
About five minutes before, the Panthers' Payton Salsgiver chased down a long chip pass and beat the defender for a shot attempt that just missed wide left.
Just under two minutes into the game, Sgrignoli dribbled down field, beat a defender and placed shot on goal that a diving Wantz made the save on. However, Wantz had trouble controlling the ball initially and had to recollect it before it nearly trickled into the net.
Dover was able to swing the action into its offensive side for a stretch midway through each half. Those efforts ended up in a 15-12 advantage in shots for the Eagles.
The Eagles were able to finally break through with around 25 minutes left in the first half with a pair of shots, one sailing wide and the other fired over the net by Brooke Firestone.
The second half began as a mirror of the first, with the Panthers (13-6-0) controlling much of the action. Also like the first half, Dover and Eshleman finally broke through.
The Panthers, however, weren't going away quietly after Eshleman's marker. Central applied heavy pressure for the final 10 minutes, but Wantz's defense came up in the clutch with a number of key takeaways and clears.
— Reach Elijah Armold at firstname.lastname@example.org.