MANCHESTER — Even though York Catholic is known for its senior firepower led by Melanie Matthews and McCayla Welsh, it was a sophomore that put the Irish into the District 3 1-A soccer championship Thursday night.
With 6 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first half, Renee Bonner lifted a direct kick above the outstretched arms of goalie Alissa Foster to give York Catholic a 1-0 victory over Camp Hill in semifinal action. The victory sends the Fighting Irish to the district finals for the second consecutive season and they'll face a familiar foe in Fairfield, a 2-1 double-overtime winner over Tulpehocken in the other semifinal.
"Renee has made some big goals for us and this was obviously a big one" York Catholic coach Joe Nattans said. "Even when she came in as a freshman, she had one of the hardest shots on the team and it's just a matter of her getting confidence that she can make those shots"
Bonner's shot was a beauty that was placed just high enough that Foster couldn't control.
"I'm trying to score in those situations, but I didn't think it was going to go in, but I'm glad it did" Bonner said.
Although the Fighting Irish controlled the flow, Nattans was concerned his club missed too many opportunities to hang onto the one-goal lead. Most of the second half was played in a driving rainstorm.
"We missed some chances that could have put the game away," he said. "A one-goal lead isn't enough especially when it's raining like it was. A mishit with the ball, or the ball skips by the goalie on the wet turf and it's a tie game. But the girls played the full 80 minutes and gave 100 percent. This was the biggest game of the year because it gets us into the state tournament."
But first, York Catholic will focus on the title match with Fairfield, a team that defeated the Fighting Irish twice this season, 13-0 and 5-4.
The championship is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hersheypark Stadium.
"It's tough to beat somebody three times in one year," Nattans said. "They're obviously a very good team, but we know what we have to do against them — control their forwards, control the middle of the field and put the ball in the net. If we do that, I think we can be successful."
OTHER GIRLS' DISTRICT RESULTS
Northeastern eliminated by Northern York: The Bobcats soccer team saw their season end with a 3-1 loss to the Polar Bears in the District 3 3-A quarterfinals at Boiling Springs High School. No other details were reported.
Fairfield survives in double overtime: The Green Knights' incredible season continued forward with a 2-1 win in double overtime against Tulpehocken in the 1-A championship game at Lower Dauphin Middle School. Fairfield will face York Catholic in the championship game on Wednesday. No other details were reported.