Mountaineers Hope To Improve For Next Year
LEHMAN TWP. — Minutes after Mechanicsburg rolled to a state tournament victory, Dallas girls soccer coach was looking forward to the next time the teams will meet.
Dallas’ Nikki Pekarski said she told the Wildcats’ coach she’d see them next year, although it wasn’t a bold prediction for the 2019 postseason. Rather, it was the obvious next step for Pekarski and Dallas, which she hopes builds off its latest successful season.
From set pieces to solid passing downfield, Mechanicsburg outperformed the Mountaineers on the way to a 4-0 victory in Tuesday night’s first round of the PIAA Class 3A girls soccer playoffs at Lake-Lehman. It’s the second year the back-to-back District 2 champions fell in their state-opening matchup.
“I just said we need to go see these teams before the season starts. We don’t see the type of teams out of this area,” Pekarski said. “So I said, all right, now’s the time we start scheduling visits down to go to these girls.”
“We have to get out of the area,” she added.
Though Dallas’ defense made solid stops when it could, it seemed like a matter
of time until Mechanicsburg took the lead. The Wildcats began earning corner kicks early and often — they finished with nine — and kept the ball in the attacking end.
Almost 15 minutes in, Mechanicsburg got a second chance on a corner and struck for the first time. Meg Schrass found space in the middle of the action and directed Abbey Engle’s ball into the net with a header.
The Wildcats converted another corner later in the half, too. Halle Engle waited a bit behind the action as a deflection trickled to her, and she quickly sent it back for a goal 2-0 halftime lead.
“You just need to have some girls that are willing to go find the ball, and we have that,” Wildcats coach Jake June said. “We always feel confident that we’re going to create some dangerous opportunites off of set pieces and corners.”
Mechanicsburg scored twice after the break, too. Its offense continued to click, and Isabelle Martin and Elena Hinkson scored to ensure the Wildcats would move on to Saturday’s quarterfinals for a matchup against District 12 champion Archbishop Ryan.
Dallas was prepared with film and notes on its opponent, Pekarski said.
“Still, saying it and then seeing it with your eyes, it’s like, OK, suddenly we’re not the fastest anymore,” she said. “They just know where each other’s going to be. We do too, but I think tonight we were just overwhelmed.”
Tuesday was by no means the end of the road for this group of Dallas players, though.
The Mountaineers’ starting lineup included seven juniors, a sophomore and three freshmen — but no seniors. Pekarski noted only one senior will be missing from her roster when next season rolls around.
That means Dallas will look much like the same team that won the last two District 2 titles and took second place in the WVC Division 1 standings this year behind players like division scoring leader Ali Francis.
With some potential trips to out-of-district opponents, there’s plenty of room to improve before next year’s state tournament.
“We’re taking this game, we are going to learn from it and we’re immediately starting again,” Pekarski said.
“I told them it’s not guaranteed we’ll be back here next year,” she added. “But starting tomorrow, we’re going to work to get back here.”
FIRST HALF: Meg Schrass (Mec) from Abbey Engle, 25:04; Halle Engle (Mec) from A. Engle, 11:20.
SECOND HALF: Isabelle Martin (Mec) from H. Engle, 28:13; Elena Hinkson (Mec) from Martin, 21:11.
SHOTS: Dal 3, Mec 15.
CORNERS: Dal 3, Mec 9.
SAVES: Dal 11, Mec 3.
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