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York Catholic earns historic berth in District 3-A girls' soccer title match


SPRING GROVE — The York Catholic girls' soccer team delivered a dominating performance on an historic night for the program.

The Fighting Irish used their speed and passing skills to defeat Fairfield, 7-1, in the District 3-A semifinals.

The victory allowed No. 2 seed York Catholic (14-4) to earn its first-ever berth in the district championship game. The Fighting Irish will take on another parochial school, No. 1 seed Trinity (18-1-1), for the title. The game is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Hersheypark Stadium. Trinity beat No. 5 seed Annville-Cleona (14-8) in the other semifinal, 3-0.

York Catholic split two regular-season games with York-Adams League rival Fairfield, but the Fighting Irish wouldn't be denied in the rubber match on Monday night.

York Catholic senior Elizabeth Johnson, who scored her 100th goal this season, added to her highly impressive career total by scoring four goals, two in each half.

Johnson, who plans to play at Catholic University, scored her team's second goal from 15 yards out and connected for the third goal following a perfect pass from Paige Phillips off a direct kick.

Johnson added her team's fourth and seventh goals, with the final one coming with 29 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in the game. Phillips supplied the assist on the fourth goal, too.

Melanie Matthews, Courtney Nattans and McCayla Welch also delivered goals for the winners. Welch connected in the first 1:16 of the game, and Matthews provided an assist on Nattans' goal with a pinpoint cross from the wing.

Kacey Shaffer scored for Fairfield.

York Catholic led 3-0 at halftime before tacking on four more goals in the final half.

"We were really excited to play this match tonight," Johnson said. "Once we got those first couple of goals, we were really able to work well together. This was a huge victory for our program. We really came together."

York Catholic's overall performance earned kudos from the team's head coach, Joe Nattans.

"You don't expect a 7-1 score in a game like this, but we played really well tonight," said Nattans, who added that's it's his understanding that York Catholic is the first York-Adams girls' soccer team to qualify for a district final. "This is one of the best matches we played all year. We know we have the speed, we know we have the skill to possess the ball, and from there, it's a matter of the counter attack."

Nattans knows he'll be losing a special player when Johnson graduates next spring.

"That type of player doesn't come around very often," he said. "She's a natural goal scorer and a natural leader. She's a great player to coach. She listens, and she learns."

Johnson and Lisa Casagrande, another senior, are the team's captains.

"We expected a really close match tonight," Casagrande said. "But we knew since we lost to them earlier in the season, we had to come and prove ourselves. It means everything to win this match and make it to the final because York Catholic is all about basketball. But, ever since we've been in high school the past couple of years, soccer has been such a hit."

With the win, York Catholic also assured itself of a berth in the PIAA Class A state playoffs.

No. 3 seed Fairfield finishes its season at 15-3-1.

— Reach Dick VanO'Linda at sports@yorkdispatch.com.