Like any team making its third consecutive PIAA appearance, Berwick came into the girls soccer postseason with Hershey on its mind.
Unfortunately, for the Wyoming Valley Conference champions, the Bulldogs are forced to make an appearance at Hersheypark Stadium much earlier than anticipated.
Saturday's 6-1 loss to Scranton Prep shattered the Bulldogs' quest for a third consecutive District 2 championship. Instead of hosting a game at Wilkes University, the Bulldogs travel to Hersheypark Stadium to face Trinity (Camp Hill) today at 5 p.m. in the first round of the PIAA Class 2A playoffs. If Berwick wins, it will match up against either Moon or Forest Hills – both from Western Pennsylvania – in the quarterfinals.
The task won't come easy for the Bulldogs. Trinity is ranked No. 4 in the final Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association small school poll.
The Bulldogs (17-1) must shake off a funk that plagued them against the Classics on Saturday. Scranton Prep scored two goals in the first 13 minutes, and Berwick was never able to recover.
Berwick looked nothing like the team that steam-rolled WVC competition throughout the year. Berwick had not trailed all season until Elana Falcone's goal in the fourth minute Saturday. In fact, the only time they had been threatened offensively was Pittston Area's Madison Mimnaugh's first-half goal on Sept. 19.
Relying heavily on its defense, Berwick's success rests heavily on seniors Kelly Sheptock and Bridget Orlando. Olivia Seely and Olivia Conklin performed well in the midfield this season.
The defense championed shutouts of WVC stalwarts Coughlin, Lake-Lehman and Dallas during the regular season, and silenced the Black Knights again in the semifinals.
Karleigh Hartman and Caty Davenport continue to be the playmakers for Berwick.
To make matters worse for the traveling Dawgs: District 3 has not been kind to the Bulldogs of late.
Berwick fell to the District 3 sixth seed each of the past two seasons in the spring state playoffs. Mechanicsburg ousted the Dawgs 3-2 this past spring, and Manheim Township shut them out 4-0 in 2011.
Trinity (21-3) defeated Northern York 3-0 to win the District 3 championship.
Sara Sajer scored two goals in the Shamrocks' win and is the team's leading scorer with 27 goals. Micaela Oliverio was named the Mid Penn-Capital player of the year with 16 goals and a league-leading 20 assists.
The Shamrocks average 4.3 goals per game.