HERSHEY – Berwick waited patiently for its opportunity to pounce on a goal.
The Bulldogs' defense, organized and poised, stood the offensively potent Shamrocks at a standstill for 78 minutes, offering counter-attack after counter-attack to counteract Trinity's skilled ballhandling.
In the end, Trinity finally figured out how to defeat the Dawgs' swarmy defense – throw nine players in the box. The Shamrocks scored two goals in the final three minutes to eliminate Berwick from the PIAA Class 2A playoffs with a 2-0 victory Tuesday at Hersheypark Stadium.
They were pressing up hard on us, Berwick coach Paul DiPippa said. Our strategy was just to chip a little on top, use our speed. We started nine behind the ball, and see if we could get one of them.
The strategy worked as fourth-ranked Trinity ended the stalemate in the 78th minute when a corner-kick opportunity rattled around both Bulldog and Shamrock players like pinball bumpers. Sara Sajer found the back of the net for the go-ahead goal.
Two minutes later, Ashley Rogliana tallied a breakaway goal to put the game away.
Following an offensively silent first half that saw each team produce just one shot on goal, Berwick certainly had its scoring chances in the second frame.
Bridget Orlando rocketed a shot from 15 yards out that was stopped nicely by Shamrock goalkeeper Mary Stephens in the 45th minute.
Gravity proved to be the Bulldogs' biggest enemy and thwarted a prime scoring chance. Caty Davenport pressured Stephens in the 72nd and gained possession of the ball with an open net. Davenport's hustle and momentum caught her off-balance and her shot sailed high.
It's a game of where the ball bounces sometimes, DiPippa said. If we could have gotten a goal and went a goal up, it could have changed the game.
Berwick looked nothing like the team that looked lifeless against Scranton Prep in a 6-1 loss Saturday in the district final. In stark contrast to the Classic, the Shamrocks struggled mightily to get around the Bulldog defenders.
After Saturday's game, we didn't have one of our better games, DiPippa said. The thing I am most proud of is our defense. When you give up six goals, it kind of smacks you in the face.
There is a saying it doesn't matter how many times you get down it's what you do when you get back up – whatever that saying is. I'm so proud of how our defense played today.
The Bulldogs looked at times to have a burst of the momentum against one of the top teams in the state.
It felt like at times that we have the upper hand when we did get the ball, DiPippa said. It was just an inch or two here. It comes down to that. The ball gets over their head instead of just snickering off their head.
Berwick midfielder Kelly Sheptock was a thorn in the Shamrocks' side all game. Trinity coach Terry Mull said she was one of the top defenders they faced all season.
That big girl was all over the place. She's tough, he said.
Dawgs' goalkeeper Allison Rinehimer made several flashy plays that kept her team in the game down the stretch. Miranda Rogliano baited Rinehimer before crossing to Oliverio but the Berwick junior swatted it in the 50th minute. A minute before the game's first goal, Rinehimer lifted a Mary Durle knee shot over the net that set up the game-winning corner kick opportunity.
She's so sure with her hands, DiPippa said. She never drops the ball. I thought she held her line very well. Again, she made a great save to keep us in the game.
First half: No scoring
Second half: 1. TRI, Sara Sajer (Miranda Rogliano), 78th minute; 2. TRI, Ashley Rogliana (Micaela Oliverio), 80th minute
Shots: BER 5, TRI 13; Saves: BER 8 (Allison Rinehimer), TRI 2 (Mary Stephens); Corners: BER 1, TRI 6.