READING — From where Manheim Central coach Andrew Stoltzfus was standing, Maggie Cliggett's shot seemed destined for the crossbar on the football goal post, just behind the net.
For her part, the Archbishop Wood senior was afraid she had misfired.
“I thought I was going hit the post and miss the net,” Cliggett said with a laugh.
Fortunately for the Vikings — and unfortunately for the Barons — the shot caught the inside of the post and dropped into the back of the net in the 76th minute, and that was the difference in the game, as District 12 runner-up Archbishop Wood knocked off District Three champ Manheim Central 1-0 in a PIAA Class 3A playoff quarterfinal game at Exeter High School on Saturday night.
While Archbishop Wood moves on to face District Seven champ Mars in Tuesday's semifinals, the Barons end their season with a 20-6 record.
“If we're going to get beat, it's on a heck of a shot like that,” Stoltzfus said. “We had our opportunities, we just didn't take them. It's just hard to think we won't be heading back onto the field with these seniors ever again.”
In a defensive battle, the Vikings had five corner kicks and six shots to Manheim Central's two shots and two corners.
The Barons had other scoring chances that ended up as near-misses.
One of those came just 7:30 into the opening half, as senior Makenna Copley got it alone on a breakaway against Vikings keeper Natalie Gablein. Copley unleashed a solid shot, but it went a bit wide of the right post.
“I think if we play this game nine more times, Makenna scores on that breakaway all nine times and (Cliggett) probably doesn't put that one off the far post and in the other nine times either,” Stoltzfus said. “That's just the way they fall sometimes.”
After watching film of the Vikings, Manheim Central focused on limiting Archbishop Wood forwards Alyssa DeGeorge and Paige Hoeger. The Barons didn't let those two hurt them, and keeper Mia Reed (five saves) stopped DeGeorge on a breakaway with 8:30 to go.
Just over four minutes later, though, Cliggett received a pass from Emily Montague and scored the game-winner. It was just her third goal of the season.
“The way it floated up there, (Mia) just didn't have a chance,” Stoltzfus said.
Hempfield 1, McDowell 0: At Somerset, the Black Knights’ back four held their opponents’ front three to just two shots on goal Saturday, and Hempfield rode the difference into a state semifinal berth. Another thing that made a difference for Hempfield, coach Jason Mackey wrote in a postgame email, was that the midfield combined to steady the Knights’ pace of play en route to the win.
Hempfield (18-3-1) advanced to Tuesday’s semifinals, where it will meet Boyertown (22-2), which beat North Allegheny 3-2 in double overtime Saturday, at a site and time to be determined.
Hempfield dominated the pace of play in the scoreless first half, Mackey wrote, limiting McDowell (20-2) to just one shot on goal. The Knights created several chances for themselves, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The second half was similar to the first — until the 63rd minute.
That’s when Gabi Hollinger took a pass on the right wing from Lizzie Yurchak. Against McDowell’s left back, Hollinger cut inside and delivered a driven ball on the ground that the goalie couldn't handle.
After Hollinger’s score, McDowell began applying pressure and playing a more direct game, Mackey wrote, but ultimately, McDowell couldn’t find the equalizer.